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V D K-^ . 












[An Rights Eeserved.} 








Public conveyances — Mode of travelling in the island — Rett-honses — The 

Kadugannava pass — Obelisk to Cax)tain Dawson — Bcanty of the road to 

Piisilawa — Moonlight scene — Rambodde water-fall — The valley of 

Newera Ellia— English aspect of the houses — The climate of the valley 

— Pedni-talla-galla — Commanding view from the sunmiit — Eandy and 

its picturesque x>08ition •.••••••• 1 


Adam's peak. 

Fancy of mankind for cHmbing high mountains— TV hen connected with 
Adam —Worship of the sun — Buddha, legend of his foot-print — ^Kwan- 
yin — Did the Ark rest on Adam's Peak— Dr. Eitto's C*yclopeedia — left 
of the Gnostics — M. Dulaurier's version — Various foot-prints in the 
world — Ascent of the Peak — Thick jungles — Pinnacle of the Peak — The 
chains — ^According to Mahometan legends made by Alexander — Ibn 
Batuta — ^Yiew from the summit unsurpassed — Fogs — ^The descent • 9 



Books and wiiting — The Buddhist Atthakatha — ^When compiled — The con- 
vocation of A soka— Language — Weaving — Fine arts — Music — Working 
in metals — Iron and steel — Coins and currency — Various arts — Dis- 
tillation — Lightning conductors — Medicine — Architecture— Dagobas — 
Monasteries 24 





Charftcter of Sakya — Resemblaiice between Buddhism and Cliristianity — Its 
failure to improve the condition of mankinds-Its Heaven a hideous 
phantom— Biography of Sakya— The " Lalita Vistara" — The four 
truths — The wheel of the law — Buddhism and the inscriptions of 
Asoka — Nirvana — Its Atheistical tendency — Buddhist schisms — Kwan- 
yin— Buddha's relics— The '* Dalada "— The **Patra"— Marco Polo's 
account of them — De Couto's version — Temples — Buddhist priests — 
Buddhist nuns — The Chinese Queen of Heaven — Demonology and 
snake worship^Brahmimsm — Christianity in Ceylon .... 55 



Introductory remarks — Monkeys — ^The Sloth — Bats — Flying-foxes — Shrews 
— Bears — Jackals — Dogs ~ Palm-cats — Mongoos — Leopards — Tiger-cats 
— Squirrels — Rats — Hares — Porcupines — Horses — Ant-eaters — Wild 
pigs — Elephants— Deer — Buffaloes — Oxen— The Dugong, or mermaid 
— Dolphins — Whales— Porpoises — List of Mammalia • • • .97 



Eagles — Kites — Hawks — Owls — Goat-suckers — Swallows — Kingfishers — 
Bee-eaters — Hoopoes— Sun-birds — Warblers — Orioles — Babblers — Bul- 
buls— Fly-catchers— Shrikes — Crows, Jays, and Starlings — Hombills — 
Parroquets — Barbets and Woodpeckers - Cuckoos — Pigeons and Doves 
—Peacocks — Jungle-fowl — Partridge and Quail — Grail® — Herons — 
Bitterns — Storks — Ibises— Snipe — Rail — Water-hens— -Flamingos — 
Gulls — Pelicans — List of Birds - • . 18^ 



Crooodiles — Monitors — Seines— Geckoes — Lizards — Chameleon --Snakes— 
Snake-bites and antidotes — Dr. Fayrer's experiments — Snake-eating 
snakes — Rat-snakes— The Python — Shield-snakes — Blind snakes — Sea- 
snakes— Freshwater snakes — Tree-snakes — Frogs— Turtles and Tortoises 
—List of Reptiles • • . 17S 



Vast numbers of insects in tropical climates— Beetles — Butterflies — ^Moths — 
Leaf-insects — Cockroaches —Dragon-flies— Termites — Ants — ^Wasps and 
Bees— Crickets— Mosquitoes— Flying-bugs— The Coffee-bug— Ticks- 
Mites — Scorpions — Spiders — CentipedesJ— Millepedes — Woodlice — 
Leeches— Worms — List of Insects 208 




FISH. * 

Mullet — Chsetodon — TriglicUe — Seer-fish— Boneto — Kummelmns, or dried 
fish— The Goat-fish — Suckmg-fish — Sailor-fish — "Walking-fish — Sea 
surgeons— Lip-fish— Half-beaks — Flying-fish — Sprats and Sardines— 
Eels — Pipe-fish — Coffer-fish and Trigger-fish — Urchin-fish, or Balloon- 
fish— Sharks and the Pilot-fish — Saw-fish — Rays — Poisonous-fish — 
Freshwater-fish — Travelling-fish — Burying-fish — The Aiiabis — Various 
freshwater species— Showers of fish — list of Fish .... 242 



Fainted crabs — Swimming crabs— Beckoning crabs — Hermit crabs — Pea 
crabs— Sand crabs — Spiny lobsters— Flat lobsters— Prawns— Marine 
shells— Land shells — Chanks — Oysters —Star-fish — Flat worms — 
Sea-slugs— Jelly-fish— Zoophytes— List of Crustacea and Shells . . 269 



Their antiquity as an ornament — Cleopatra's ear-rings — Drinking of dis- 
solved pearls —Largest pearls come from the West Indies— Origin of the 
term Margarita — Revenue derived from the fishery — Natural history 
of the pearl-fish — Migrations of the pearl-fish — Artificial pearls^- 
Description of the fishery — Shark-charmers — Manner of diving — 
Drilling and polishing pearls 277 



First used as an alimentary infusion in Abyssinia — Coffee drinking pro- 
hibited in England by Charles IL — When introduced into Europe — 
The Dutch first to pl^t it in Ceylon — Cofiee mania of Ceylon — Ruin 
of the first speculators — Malabar coolies — Manner of preparing the 
berry 301 



Arecas— Ratans— The Talipat— The Palmyra— The Kittool— The Cocoa-nut 
— ^Its varied uses — Cocoa-nut oil — Coir— Toddy — Jaggery — Cocoa- 
nut planting 812 





Ceylon cin!Qamon unknown to the ancients — First mentioned by Kazwini 
A.D. 1275 — ^DoubtM if indigenous in tlie island — ^Not planted by the 
Dutch — ^The cinnamon monopoly— ^When abandoned — Mode of pre- 
paring the spice — Oil of cinnamon 830 



General description of tht flora of the island — Exotics^Iist of vegetable 
products exported — ^Timber trees — Fruits — ^Water plants — Orchids — 
Fungi and Lichens — Plants of the North — Plants of the shores — 
Plants of the highest hills 846 

BOTANY — contintied, 


General description of plants belonging mostly to the lower regions, 

comprising the principal part of the flora of Uie Island . . , 881 







Since the opening of the railway between Colombo and 
Kandy, in 1867, the traveller can take his ticket and be 
whirled in a few hours to his destination, but on all the other 
roads the old mode of travelling must still be followed. 

Formerly the only public conveyance in the island was a 
very primitive one, that traveled between Kandy and Colombo, 
and Galle and Colombo, three or four times a week, carrying a 
few passengers, principally rich half-castes, performing the 
journey in about twelve hours. 

Most Europeans prefer travelling in their own carriage or 
on horseback, in easy stages of from fifteen to twenty miles, 
during the night or early in the morning, to avoid the heat of 
the sun, spending the day in buildings called " rest-houses," 
erected by government at intervals along the roads. These 
buildings are similar to Indian choultries.^ Shelter is all 
that is to be obtained in many of them ; some have bedsteads, 
a few chairs and tables, with a native employe in charge of 
each, but on unfrequented routes they are often in a dirty and 

^ This species of accommodation for travellers has existed in many parts of 
the East from time immemorial, and seems to be alluded to by Jeremiah, ch. iz. 2, 
** Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging-place of wayfaring men," &c. Gabriel 
Durand, a missionary in Thibet in 1861, describes a kind of rest-house in that 
country called Kung-Kuan, Ann. Prop, de la Foi, xxxv. 352. 



neglected state. Bennett mentions finding two panthers 
located in one at Wallewe, near Tangalle, in 1826 ; and the 
rest-house at Kaigalle was uninhabitable from leeches after 
heavy rains, the neighbourhood being infested with these 

A precarious supply of fowls* eggs and rice being all the 
provisions that can be obtained on the road in several parts of 
the country, travellers are obliged to take many things with 
them, also servants and coolies.^ 

This manner of travelling is exhilarating and amusing in 
the highest degree. The refreshing coolness and enchanting 
beauty of the nights, the novelty and variety of the scenes 
through which you pass, all conspire to make it so. The 
deep gloom and stillness of the forests which overhang the 
road on either side are followed by the beauties of a tropical 
sunrise. The voices of birds, the harbingers of the mom, 
breaking the solemn silence of the night, echo on all sides 
their various cries. The first glimmering of dawn quickly 
expands into the glowing day as the rosy sun appears above 
the horizon, and rolling back the mists of the valleys unveils 
some new scene of beauty. All is then smiling aroimd you, 
the morning is in its first fi'eshness, the lotus has risen with 
the sun from beneath the water of the pool, and is giving out 
its delicious odour. The jimgle cock, with shrill note, shouts 
his reveille in the distance ; flights of parroquets rush through 
the air with loud screams, and the busy hum of insects 
resounds on all sides. 

At no part of the day does the tropical landscape present 
such charms as immediately after sunrise. How bright and 
vivid the verdure of the jimgle, in tears from the moisture of 
night ! The flowers also seem freshly awakened and perfumed, 
every plant sending its fragrance through the air ; but all is 
soon a blaze of light as the sun's fervid rays dry up the 
dew-drops that sparkle like gems on the leaves, and a fierce 

* Great retinues of servants and coolies attend travellers in the East ; in the 
year 1800, the governor, on a tour round the island, was acconiimnied by 160 
bearers, 400 coolies, two elephants, six horses, and fifty Lascars. 


glare replacing the brilliant freshness of the early morning, 
you are glad to arrive at your journey's end to escape it. 

The day is spent in repose at the rest-house, all animated 
nature around you hushed into silence by the oppression of 
the fervid noon. Midday in the jungle is almost as silent as 
the night, the vivacity of the morning gradually dying away 
as the sun reaches the meridian. 

The road from Colombo to Kandy is very flat until you 
reach Ambepusse, about thirty-five miles, where the rest- 
house is situated in the gorge of a ravine surrounded by 
hills, the commencement of the high lands of tlie interior. 
At the top of the Kadugannava pass, about 2,000 feet above 
the sea, the road reaches its highest point, being carried over 
a mountain, and the views from this place are magnificent. 
Here there is a stone obelisk, erected by public subscription, 
to the memory of Captain Dawson, B.E., who planned and 
executed the road ; he died at Colombo, March 28, 1829. 

Near to Peradenia tlie road to Gampola and Newera-Ellia 
branches ofiF and runs close to the river Mahavilla-ganga for 
several miles. The rest-house at Gampola is very prettily 
situated close to the river, crossed by a suspension bridge, 
erected during the governorship of Sir H. Ward. 

The road from Gampola to Pusilawa is singularly beautiful, 
winding zig-zag along the sides of steep hills, with torrents 
foaming below. Some years since the acclivities were clothed 
with dense forests of fine trees and gigantic ferns, among 
which was a curious species of gamboge-tree {Xanthochyinm 
ovalifolius, Roxb.), its branches and trunks covered with 
yellow gum, and the tall Kattoo-imbool of the Sinhalese 
(Sabfialia Malabarica), laden with scarlet tulip-shaped blos- 
soms ; but these stately forests have in great measure 
given place to cofiee plantations, which now cover this dis- 
trict. The vale of Kotmalee, through which the road passes 
before ascending the mountains leading to Newera-Ellia, 
presents very grand and beautiful prospects; the valley is 
overhung on the south-east side by a range of mountains, 
rising several thousand feet above the sea, wliile the Maha- 
villa-ganga, fed by numerous torrents coursing down the 

B 2 


ravines, winds its way through it. Beautiful as this valley is 
by day it is perfectly enchanting at night, when lit up by a 
brilliant moon, bright enough to read by — such a moon as is 
only to be seen in the tropics, with a sort of golden hue in it, 
mingling the warm radiance of day with the paler lustre of 
night. All nature lies in a profound silence, only disturbed 
by the hum of innumerable insects arising on all sides, while a 
most delicious softness pervades the air, which is laden with 
the odour of lemon-grass. 

The valley of Kotmalee ends in a kind of cul-de-sac at 
Rambodde rest-house, which is finely situated between two 
waterfalls formed by the Puna-Ellia and Garunda-Ellia, tri- 
butaries of the Mahavilla-ganga. The mountains rise abruptly 
across the valley at this place, one river falling over near the 
centre into the vale below with a great noise, rendering it 
diflBcult to sleep. From this to Newera-Ellia is about fifteen 
miles of an exceedingly steep road, being carried the whole 
way through a succession of moimtain defiles, thickly wooded 
and furrowed by innumerable torrents. At Rambodde the 
road turns abruptly to the right, crossing the river close to the 
fall, and winds at an incline of one in fourteen up the face 
of the mountain, fine views of the valley below being obtained 
At intervals. Many coflfee plantations have been made here, 
which are said to produce the best berries in the island. 

On reaching the top of the pass an opening in the defiles 
reveals Newera-EUia to your view, as it lies below embedded 
among the wooded mountains, a verdant plain of grass inter- 
spersed with rhododendrons covered with crimson blossoms, a 
considerable stream, one of the sources of the Maha\illa- 
ganga winding in a serpentine course through the valley. 

This sanatarium, distant 112 miles from Colombo, is an 
undulating plain, 6,240 feet above the sea, running from 
north-east to south-west, divided into two unequal portions 
by a ridge of low wooded hills, the larger being nearly two 
and a half miles in length by three-quarters broad, or about 
seven miles in circumference, the smaller portion forming an 
extensive ravine, and nearly surrounded by high mountains, 
covered with trees from summit to base, which throw their 


huge shadows over the plain a great part of the day. The 
only buildings about thirty years ago were two rows of native 
huts, forming the bazaar at the entrance of the valley; the 
barracks in the smaller valley, a rest-house, a " cutchery *' and 
court-house, a commissariat store, and a few scattered houses 
for the official residents and visitors in search of health. 

The houses, consisting of only the ground-floor, were all 
made of wooden frames filled in with mud, plastered and 
whitewashed, and thatched with long grass, the walls covered 
with roses and cre^ing plants, and surrounded with gardens 
filled with English flowers and firuits. These, with the 
carpeted rooms and fire-places, delighting and astonishing the 
new arrival with a pleasing picture of home in the midst of a 
tropical jimgle. 

The change is indeed surprising fi:om the oppressive heat 
of Colombo, with its accompanying languid and flabby limbs, 
where a single sheet at night seems too much, to blankets and 
a fire ; to awaken after a refreshing sleep, rarely obtained in 
Colombo, and see the grass white with hoar-fi:ost, and hear 
the voice of the robin and blackbird near one's window. If 
an early riser, the new arrival takes a stroll before breakfast, 
feels the crisp grass and leaves crackling under his feet, 
expands his chest and inhales the pure air with a degree of 
delight only understood by those who have felt the magical 
change, returning to breakfast with a sharp appetite and a 
vigour of limb almost forgotten. Clothing which makes one 
hot to look at in Colombo is here donned with pleasure, and 
we are glad to sit near a fire at breakfast and in the evenings. 
Since the increased facilities of travelling, the valley is annu- 
ally visited by numbers of Europeans from the coasts during 
the hot season there, and can now boast of a church, a reading- 
room, and an hotel, and numerous residences have been erected. 

In consequence of its elevated position the air is very 
rarefied, causing a slight difficulty in breathing upon any 
exertion. The clouds, attracted by the mountains, often de- 
scend into the valley, completely obscuring everj'thing with 
a thick mist, and there is a gi*eat deal of rain, especially at 
the change of the monsoons* The south-west blows with 


great violence, accompanied by tremendous peals of thunder 
and vi\'id flashes of lightning, to which the thin air and 
elevated position gives an astounding effect, and which seem 
sufficient to shake tlie mountains to their foundations. 

The thermometer ranges from 53° at six a.m. to 70° and 
75° during the day, descending to 60° at six p.m., and the 
nights are very cold, the grass being covered with hoar-frost 
in the mornings from December to March, and water pre- 
viously boiled will freeze if left out of doors. Sudden vari- 
ations of temperature sometimes occur, an oppressive heat at 
noon being succeeded by great chill in the evenings. 

Experience has shown that the climate of Newera-EUia is 
not so favourable for the cure of tropical diseases as at flrst 
imagined. Persons whose liver is in a bad state, or in ad- 
vanced stages of dysenteiy, are rather injured than otherwise 
by the sudden change of temperature, the cold air of the 
mornings causing congestion. It is more valuable as a pre- 
ventive of disease than as a cure for it. Persons resident on 
the coast will find themselves benefited by a periodical visit 
to Newera-Ellia, as it braces up the system and gives renewed 
strength to stand the enervating influence of the heat of the 
lower districts. The climate of Newera-Ellia and the hill 
sanatai'iums of India is very similar, and there is little differ- 
ence in their effects. 

Since the extensive clearance of the forests in the vicinity 
for coffee plantations the climate appears to have undergone 
a change, and will doubtless change still more. There is much 
less rain than foimerly, and the temperature is higher ; mos- 
quitos and sparrows are common there now, although quite 
unknown to older inhabitants. 

All the English flowers and vegetables grow to perfection, 
particularly potatoes and cabbages. Peaches will not ripen, 
and cherries hardly bloom. These trees, stimulated by the 
peq^etual si)ring, become evergreens ; but strawberries are very 
fine, also citrons and Cape gooseberries {Physalis Peruviuna). 
Wild raspberries (liuhus nigosus) grow in the gi^eatest pro- 
fusion, and geraniums are so large they make hedges. Of late 
years many Eiu-opean plants and fruits have been iutroduced 


which were unknown formerly, and attempts have been made 
to cultivate wheat and other cereals, but the latter have not 
been veiy successful. (Vide ch. v.) Potatoes are largely culti- 
vated, and at considerable profit, for the Colombo market; 
but since the introduction of the potato disease this crop has 
become precarious. Sir S. Baker, who spent some years at 
Newera-EUia, has written a pamphlet on the advantages of 
European colonization of the mountains of Ceylon. The 
neighboui'hood of Badulla would be the best suited for this 
purpose, as it is more fertile than anywhere about Newera- 
Ellia, and produces many varieties of useful crops ; but it 
should be borne in mind that the European constitution 
generally becomes too much enervated in a tropical climate to 
be capable of any amoimt of exertion. 

The first Englishman who visited Newera-Ellia was Dr. 
Davy, in 1819, and subsequently a party of officers on an 
elephant-shooting excursion, about the year 1826. On their 
return to Colombo, General Barnes, the governor, was so 
much taken by their account of the climate that he decided to 
form a sanatarium there, and opened a road to it from Kandy 
in 1829. Sir E. Tennent appears to have overlooked Dr. 
Davy's statement that he visited the valley in 1819, when he 
wrote, " The first visit of Europeans to this lofty plateau was 
made by some officers, who, in 1826, penetrated so far in 
pursuit of elephants " (ii. 206). 

The soil in many places is black and swampy, and gems are 
found at the end of the valley near the road to Badulla, and 
searching for them is an occasional amusement with visitors, 
but none of any value are ever foimd. There is a great deal of 
Nillo underwood in the jimgles, a species of Strohilanthes and 
a septennial. The seeds are eagerly sought after by rats and 
jungle fowl, who migrate to the neighbourhood to eat them, 
the latter affording capital sport while it lasts. 

The dome-shaped mountain that rises above the valley on 
the north-eastern side, and towers over all the others, is called 
Pedi-u-talla-galla, and is the highest in Ceylon, bemg 2,040 feet 
higher than the valley. A very steep and winding foot-path, 
made by General Barnes, leads to the summit, which is not 


many yards across. The view from it is very extensive. Before 
the axe of the planter had intruded on the jungle it presented 
a vast sea of foliage reaching to the horizon, broken here and 
there by a patch of grass. As the eye ranged over the whole 
of this immense space, not the slightest trace or sign of man 
or living thing could be seen, not even a wreath of smoke to 
indicate the existence of some hidden hut or village. The air 
on the summit is rather cold and damp, and the voice echoes 
with surprising clearness and loudness in the rarefied air. 
As you reach the top of the mountain the trees become quite 
dwarfed, not being higher than shrubs, with gnarled and 
knotted trunks covered with moss and lichens. 

Kandy. — This town is very picturesquely situated on the 
margin of a small artificial lake, and surrounded on all sides 
by thickly-wooded hills, which approach much nearer the lake 
on one side than the other; a road, fringed with trees, running 
all round it close to the water's edge, forms the usual evening 
drive of the inhabitants. There is also an esplanade between 
the lake and the town. In the lake is a miniature island, where 
the kings of Kandy formerly kept their wives. The English 
turned it into a powder magazine. 

The beauty of its position is the most that can be said in 
favour of Kandy, being in every way inferior to Colombo, and 
not healthy ; it is also horribly infested with snakes and 
reptiles. When the English arrived it was a miserable hole, 
fearfully dirty, and composed of mud cabins, as the kings re- 
served the luxuries of windows and tiles for themselves, their 
subjects being only allowed to live in huts. The palace was a 
mean building, some parts of which still remain, and have been 
converted into a court-house. There were a great number of 
temples, the majority of which have fallen to ruins. The town, 
however, is much improved since then, and now contains 
many good and substantial houses. Some of the suburbs are 
densely populated, the road to Peradenia being studded for 
miles with huts, bazaai*s, and gardens. 


Adam's peak. 

Mankind in all ages seem to have had a fancy for climbing 
high mountains ; and the mysterious sanctity attached to high 
places, and a belief in spirits resting in the air, between heaven 
and earth, has been adopted by aU antiquity — exemplified in 
the Hebrew sacrifices of the Old Testament, Genesis xxii. ; 
Exodus xix. ; Hosea iv. 18 ; Kings xvi. 4 ; Ezekiel xxviii. 
14 ; and the Mount Olympus of the Greeks, where the Pagan 
deities held their court. In the system of the Gnostic Yalen- 
tinus, the supreme fountain of Being is described as dwelling 
on some invisible and unnameable heights,^ which seems to 
have originated in the ancient idea that one part of the world 
was higher than any other, the divine and imaginary " Meru " 
of the Hindus, and *' terrestrial paradise " of the Christians, 
adjoining heaven. 

It would be difficult to say when, or with whom, the sanctity 
attached to Adam*s Peak arose, or how it came to be connected 
with either Adam or Buddha. Although the native legends 
regarding its connection with Buddha are not so old as wa» 
supposed, some wide-spread reports about idolatrous veneration 
of the Peak must have been circulated at a very early period, 
as shown by the remarks of Fa-Hian, and the Patriarch of 
Armenia, the latter anathematizing it as belonging to Satan.^ 
The " Raja-tarangini,** or Kashmir chronicle, records a fabu- 
lous expedition to the Peak (a.d. 24), undertaken by Meghava- 
hana, one of their kings. However, there is no mention of 
either Adam or Buddha, the moimt being called the mountain 

* Ircnicub. ' Vide ch. ix. 


of gems.^ But the most remarkable of all the leffendary visitors 
was the renowned Macedonian conqueror, Alexander, whose 
alleged voyage to Serendib, and devotions at the sepulchre of 
Adam, are described by Ashref, a Persian poet of the fifteenth 
century. Sir W, Ousley, who quotes him, remarks that 
oriental writers have placed Alexander in every region of the 
ancient world, but he thought it not improbable this conqueror 
was in the island. 

It has been suggested that the sanctity attached to Adam's 
Peak originated with the aborigines, who are said to have wor- 
shipped the sun,^ and Jacob Bryant, in his Mythology, traced 
this veneration to the worship of "Ammun," the sun, an 
Egyptian deity, fancying a resemblance in the word *' Ammun " 
to Hamanella, or Hamal-eel, which are merely Portuguese and 
Dutch corruptions of Salamala, or Samanhela, native names 
for Adam's Peak, of which he did not seem to have been aware, 
saying, "Ham-al-eel literally means Ham-the-Sim."^ How- 
ever mistaken in the meaning of this word, he may not have 
been very far wrong in the idea, shared by Wilford, that many 
Egyptian doctrines and sciences were anciently imported into 
India. The latter quotes an Indian legend, that some time 
after the invasion of Bdma, Maya came from the west to 
honour the sun on Salamala (vide ch. vii., p. 122) ; and there is 
some reason to suppose the modem name of Dondra head is 
a conniption of Agna, a Sanskrit word for the sun, or a sacri- 
ficial fire, occurring in the "Vedas" {vide ch. xii., p. 262). 
Ptolemy mentions a " solis portus," and Pliny an " insula solis/' 
in the island. 

As far as Buddha is concerned, the legend of his foot-print 
on the Peak does not appear to be older than Fa-Hian (a.d. 
400), and he seems to have brought it from China {vide ch. x.), 
as it is not mentioned in Nepal and Burmese versions of 
Buddhist scriptures, nor in the "Dipawanso; " the statement 
in the " Mahawanso " (ch. i.) being either an interpolation or 
an invention of Mahanamo. A ti-adition, current in tlie 

> Pp. 71, 79. {Vide ch. vii.) » Baldaus, iii. 667. 

3 Bryant's Mytho., Camb. 1767, quoted by Sir E. Teuueut, ii. 132 ; the Dutch 
called one of their forts near Jatfua, Uams*ccl. 


locality, attributes the discovery of the foot-print to King 
Walagambdhu, B.C. 140 ; and the Peak is mentioned under the 
name of Samanta pasadika, in Buddhaghosa's " Atthakatha," on 
the "Vinaya Pitaka," a.d. 432.^ Although not noticed in the 
** Ramayana," the Sinhalese name ** Samanta Kuta " seems to 
be derived from Saman, brother of E6ma, one of the heroes 
of the poem, and according to the " Rajavali " (p. 208), a guar- 
dian Devo of the peak. Still more fabulous is the statement in 
the ** Buddhawanso," that the first Buddlia of the present dis- 
pensation (b.c. 3101), visited Adam's Peak when the island 
was called Oja Dipa, and the peak Dewa Ktita ; also by 
Konagama Buddha (b.c. 2100), when it was named Saman 
Kuta, and Wara Dipa.^ The hill of Mihintala is probably the 
most ancient scene of Buddhist worship in the island. Reli- 
able Sinhalese or Hindu accounts of pilgrimages to Adam's 
Peak are comparatively modern, being first mentioned in the 
" Agni Purdna," about the ninth century a.d.,^ which calls the 
peak Sri Salia, and dedicates it to Seva. Sinhalese chronicles 
mention that Prakrama B&hu I., in the middle of the twelfth 
century, made a pilgrimage to the shrine ; also Kirti Nissanga, 
and Prakrama Bahu III., in the fourteenth century.* 

Some of the Chinese authorities, dated a.d. 1400, quoted by 
Sir E. Tennent, have connected the mountain with a personage 
named " Pawn Koo," supposed to be Adam, and say the gems 
foimd on the peak are his crystallized tears, which accounts for 
theii* brilliancy ; but it seems, as well as several other Chinese 
statements, to refer rather to Amitabha Buddha, or Kwan }dn, 
one of their deities, supposed to reveal himself occasionally 
among the mountains of Ceylon. {Vide ch. xxiii.) 

A proof of the antiquity of the strange traditions concerning 
the peak is found in the insertion of the word ** Samedib," in- 
stead of Ararat, in the Sarmatian version of the Pentateuch, as 

* A long account of the Peak, and the native legends, was published by W. 
Skecu at Colombo, 1870. 

' Mahaw. p. 88 ; Kuta is a corruption of Kanda, Sinhalese for a mountain or 
the Telengu Konda. 

» Wilson's Analysis, J. A. S. B., 1832, p. 82. 

* Rajavali, p. 254 ; Hardy, p. 212. 


the place where the ark rested. This version, which was 
brought from Damascus, in 1616, by Pietro della Valle, an 
Italian traveller, is stated by the Saimatians to have been com- 
posed by Nathaniel, one of their priests, who lived twenty years 
before Christ ; but Davison, in his "Biblical Criticism," says 
it is most probably not older than the second century a.d., and, 
in common with most ancient Targums or paraphrases, contains 
several departures from the text of the original Hebrew, the 
translator having substituted comparatively modern names for 
some of the ancient, as in the instance quoted, Genesis viii. 4. 
The Chaldaic version, or Targum Onkelos, has ** Cardu '* in 
place of Ararat, but the word Serendib does not occur, as stated 
in Dr. Kitto's " Biblical Cyclopaedia," in the Sarmatian 
Pentateuch, a very much older work,^ supposed to have been 
written in the time of Rehoboam (b.c. 975), when the tribes of 
Israel separated. Sir E. Tennent, who has pointed out this 
mistake (i. 551), says, "there is another MS. written on bom- 
basin, in the Bodleian library, No. °345, an Arabic version of 
the Pentateuch, about the year 884 of the Hegira, ascribed to 
Aba Said, which also has Serendib (Gen. viii. 4) ; but the 
word is not found in the Sarmatian Pentateuch of the Paris 
Polyglot, or in the five MSS. in the Bodleian library, Oxford." 
Fabricius, in the supplemental volume of hi^ " Codex Pseudepi- 
graphi veteris Testamenti," Hamb. 1713, says, " Samarita, 
Genesis viii. 4, tradit Nose arcam requievisse super montem 
Serendib, sive Zeylan " (p. 30), and it was possibly upon tliis 
authority that the statement was made in Dr. Kitto's Cyclo- 
paedia. Fabricius also mentions that relics of the ark are 
stated to have been found in different parts of the East ; for in- 
stance, at Cape Comorin, and Cairo, where a nail belonging to 
it is said to have been obtained ; and the Persians say the ark 
rested near Erivan (ii. 63). 

An idea has existed in the East that the deluge never reached 
the top of Adam's Peak, and that it is a relic of the ancient 
world, which may accoimt for the veneration attached to it 
among Mahometans. It is not improbable that Adam's Peak 
is older than Ararat, it having been conjectured that the 

» Vide Walton'b I'olyglot, 1657. 


deluge of Noah was caused by the elevation of the Caucasus, 
and the formation of the volcanic cones of Ararat.^ Adam's 
Peak was probably standing before the Himalayas were raised, 
and when England and Europe were half buried beneath the 
ocean. (Vid^ ch. iii). 

M. Dulaurier, in the " Journal Asiatique " for 1846, has 
sought out a very far-fetched source of the legend of Adam's 
Peak in the famous Gnostic manuscript called the " Faithful 
Wisdom,"* where the Saviour is represented as informing the 
Virgin Mary that he had appointed the spirit Kalapatauroth 
as guardian over the foot-print (skemmut) impressed by the foot 
of leu, who surrounds all the ^Eons ; also the Himarmend cus- 
todian of the books of leu,*' &c.* 

The vagueness of this passage, and the evident confusion of 
persons, is such that it requires a considerable stretch of the 
imagination to connect it with either Adam's Peak or his foot- 
print. Although M. Dulaurier says skemmut means foot- 
print, Schwartz, the Latin translator of the MS., leaves this 
word as untranslatable ; neither is it at all clear that leu means 
Adam ; although leu is called primus homo in a previous pas- 
sage. In all other parts of the work Adam is mentioned under 
his proper name. 

Sir E. Tennent, who adopted Dulaurier's idea,* says : " leu 
was the primeval man, whom the Gnostics placed next to Noos 
and Logos, as the third emanation from the deity." This 

* Figaier, Anted. World, p. 418. 

' Cette tradition, qui est d'origine bonddhique, passa aoxMosulmAns, qniraccom- 
modferent k leurs id^es. EUe est consignee, en effet, dans le fameox MS. gnostique de 
la fiddle Sagesse," p. 175. This MS., which is in the British Museum, was 
brought from Egypt by Dr. Askew, and appears to be as old as the fifth century, 
being a translation in Coptic of the Gnostic work in Greek which has perished, 
attributed by Tertullian in his treatise De PrsBScriptione to Valentinus, the great 
heresiarch who lived at Alexandria in the second century. The MS. was first 
translated into Latin by Schwartz, and afterwards into French, in 1840. 

' *' £t posui Ka\awareafp90$ apxoin-a qui super skemmut, in quo est pes le^ et 
iste circumdat miotras omnes et tifutpfuraa ; apxorra ilium posui custodientem 
libros le^ de irotraicAv0'fi»,*' '* Pistis Sophia,*' p. 221. 

^ ** left, qui est Tinspecteur de la lumidre, est con8id6r6 aussi comme le premier 
homme, c'est-i-dire, comme le protoplaste ou Adam," p. 175. There is a Malay 
version of the *' Ramayaua " in which the mountain of Serendib is connected with 
Adam, an interpolation of the Mahometan translator. (Tennent, ii. 133). 


seems to be a mistake. The Jiions, of which Noos and Logos 
were the first, in the system of the Gnostics and Valentinus, 
had no reference to Adam, but were certain spiritual essences, 
thirty in number, supposed to have proceeded by emanation 
from the one fountain of Being, (an Eastern idea,) long before 
the creation of this world. One of the last of these iEons was 
named Sophia (or Wisdom), from whom the MS. e\'idently 
derives its name. 

Although we may dismiss, as quite fanciful, any reference to 
the foot-print of Adam in this work of Valentinus, it is not 
improbable that the idea among the Mahometans is of Buddhist 
or Gnostic origin, and that Arabian mariners visiting Ceylon, 
hearing of the foot-print of Buddha on the mountain, trans- 
ferred it to Adam. Particular veneration for our first parent 
is inculcated in the Koran, a work largely infected with 
Gnosticism, as it is well known Mahomed put their hetero- 
doxical works under contribution when composing it, and at 
the dispersion of the Gnostics under the persecution of the 
Boman Emperors, many of them took refuge in Arabia, and 
embraced Mahomedanism.^ 

Wilford, in his essay on the " Sacred Isles," mentions an 
Eastern idea that Adam was buried in a tomb on the top of the 
highest mountain in the world (that is, Meru), which the 
Mahometans may have confoimded with Adkm\s Peak. Marco 
Polo, and several mediaeval travellers, speak of it as the tomb 
of Adam, making no allusion to Buddha, or a foot-print. {Vid^ 
ch. xii.) 

The earUest mention of the foot-print of Adam among 
Arabian and Persian writers is found in Tabari, (a.d. 838.) 
Ibn Batuta remarks that the Cliinese '* cut out the big toe with 
that next to it, and deposited them in the town of Tscu- 
Thoung, in China." 

Friar Odoric and Sir Thos. Herbert speak of a lake on the 
mountain formed from the tears of Adam and Eve for the 
murder of Abel. The Mahometans have a legend that the 

^ Among the dreams of the Gnostics adopted by the Mahometans is the on© 
that Cain and Abel liad twin sisters called Calamaiia and Lubora. J. Asiut. 1853 
Fabricius, Codex I^seu., 8Ui»p. v. 44. 


tears flowed in such torrents from Adam's eyes that the right 
formed the Euphrates and the left the Tigiis.^ 

Duncan, in the fifth volume of the ** Asiatic Researches," 
gives a translation of an Arabian work written in 1579, which . 
states that the Arabs made pilgrimages to the Peak before 
Mahomet wrote the Koran : " A party of Dervises on their way 
to Ceylon, touching at Cranganore, in Malabar, converted the 
Raja Sri Perimal into a disciple of Mahomet, who was then at 
Mecca, by relating his recent miracle of dividing the moon 
about the year 620 a.d." However, the miracle of the moon 
was invented by Mahomet's followers long after his death, and 
the statement appears to have been taken from the " Tohfut-ul- 
Mujahideen's " account of the settlement of the Moors in India, 
which says " that these Moslem pilgrims arrived at Cranga- 
nore 822 A.D., nearly 200 years after Mahomet's death ; but it 
was en-oneously believed by Mahometans that this king was 
converted during their Prophet's lifetime." If this be true, it 
helps to fix the date when Mahometan pilgrimages to the 
Peak began, something less tlian 100 years earlier than the 
date assigned by Ibn Batuta. (Vide ch. xii.) 

De Faria, the Portuguese historian, mentions the alleged 
conversion of Perimal to Islam and his pilgrimage to Mecca, 
adding, it was a false invention of the Moors, as this king gave 
up his crown to become a Chiistian, and died at Meliapoor, 
near Madras, 588 a.d., although, according to another doubtful 
account, he was one of the three kings who went to Beth- 

Sir Thomas Herbert (lf)34) repeats this statement of De 
Faria, but calls him King of Ceylon {vide ch. x., p. 216). It is 
doubtful there ever was a Christian king of Malabar, although 
there is a^tradition to this eflFect among the native Christians 
at Madras. 

MafFei, De Couto, and other Portuguese, have claimed the 
honours of the Peak for the eunuch of Queen Candace ^ and 

^ Wiels., Bib. Legends, p. 16. 

' Hand ahsiniile videtur in eo veatigio coli eunachum Candaceo iEthiopnm 
Reginap queni Dorotlnnis Tyri episcopus in Taprobana Cbristi Evangelium pro- 
mulgasse testatiir." Hist. Indi., lib. iii. 61. {Vide ch. xxiii,, p. 95.) 


St. Thomas, but they seem to have confounded the Apostle 
with Buddha: among the reasons for their idea, De Couto 
says, there was a stone in a quarry near Colombo impressed 
with the mark of the knees of St. Thomas very like the one at 
Meliapoor:^ but the natives have a legend that it was formed 
by Buddha. 

The foot- print on Adam's Peak is not the only thing of tlie 
kind in the world. Lyons, in his "Republic of Mexico** 
(i. 284), says : " The inhabitants of Mexico exhibit an immense 
block of porphyry, which they affirm was indented by Mon- 
tezuma's foot." Herodotus records having seen a gigantic 
footprint of Hercules on a rock near Syras, in Scythia, but it 
has not been noticed by any subsequent traveller ; and Ibn 
Batuta mentions that at Damascus there was a mosque con- 
taining a stone bearing the footprint of Moses, much venerated 
by Moslems (p. 30). 

Ancient pilgiims in Egypt are said to have drawn outlines 
of tlieir feet in holy places, still to be seen on the platform of 
tlie great temple of Phil®.^ 

Hwen Thsang speaks of several foot-prints of Buddha in 
India, and there is one in a temple at Behar venerated by 
Malabar Christians as that of St. Thomas. The Siamese 
also say there is one at Prabat, near Bangkok, and that 
Buddha stepped there from Adam's Peak. 

Willebald, an Anglo-Saxon traveller to the Holy Land, 
761 A.D., mentions seeing in the prison of Catania, in Sicily, 
the " shoe-prints " of St. Agatha. Then there is the hollow 
in the church of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives, men- 
tioned by Arculphe, a traveller of the seventh century, and 
by Padre, F. Bernardino Firenze, 1620. This church was 
turned into a mosque by the Mahometans, but has Jong since 
fallen into ruins.^ 

Thomas Hood, in his "Cornish Legends," says: "The 
giant Bolster is related to have stepped from one mountain to 
wiother some leagues distant." Can there be any connection 

> Dec. V. lib. vi. 18. ' Chartron, Voy., i. 132. 

' Idem. 


between this legend and those of Buddha ? In Friar Mauro's 
map there is a drawing of the Peak and foot-print. 

Journey to the Peak. — According to the *' Asiatic Journal" 
(i. 442), as quoted by Sir E. Tennent, Lieutenant Malcolm^ 
Ceylon Rifles, was the first Englishman who reached the 
summit of this mountain (April, 1827) ; the date he gives is a 
mistake, — it was in 1815. Dr. Davy ascended it in 1817, and 
Colonel and Mrs. Walker, of the 61st Regiment, paid it a visit 
in 1820. This lady's interesting account is published in 
Hooker's '* Companion to the Botanical Magazine," 1835. 

In paying a visit to the Peak fi:om Colombo there are 
several ways of reaching Ratnapoora on the Kaluganga, the 
point of departure for climbing the mountain. The distance 
from the coast to the summit is about sixty-five miles, the 
greater part being across a flat country. Ratnapoora is a 
fine village situated in a valley on the banks of the river in 
the midst of exquisite scenery, and is about eight miles in a 
straight line from the Peak, but the winding road is more 
than twice as long. Leaving this place early in the morning 
the traveller proceeds by a bridle-road to Gillemalle, where 
there is a little green plain among the forest trees, a few 
native huts, and a rest-house ; from hence the rugged up-and- 
down path passes over the hills which form the base of the 
mountain, crossing numerous noisy streams, dashing and 
foaming through chasms and ravines so nari'ow, nothing but 
the blue sky is seen between them, and the hills and valleys 
are covered with forests so dense that the sun is almost 
excluded, and the path winds along in deep solitary shade, 
occasionally broken in places as a gleam of radiance falls 
through an opening overhead, showing how brilliant is the sun- 
shine above. 

Notwithstanding the shade these jungles are close and 
Bultr}% being filled with hot vapour, drawn out of the rank 
vegetation by the poweifal sun. Numerous convolvulus. 
Nepenthes, Melastoma, Osbeckia, and dwarf bamboos, compose 
the undergrowth ; and frequent tracks of elephants, leopards, 
and wild pigs, cross your path ; while the swarming land- 
leeches defy all attempts to keep them oS*. 

VOL. II. c 


Between Gillemalle and the Peak the country rises rapidly ; 
and as you reach the higher points and look back towards the 
sea, grand and lovely views are obtained over the hills and 
plains below. Approaching Palabaddula the path passes 
round a number of scarped acclivities, so steep a stone falling 
over their sides can be heard bounding among the rocks below 
long after it disappears from sight through the trees. Sheds 
and resting-places for travellers are erected at intervals, and 
occasionally a small temple or altar to receive the offerings of 
the pilgrims and incite theijr devotion, 

Palabaddula is the last inhabited place on the mountain 
where there is a hamlet, a rest-house, and a Yihara containing 
a copper model of the foot-print, a/ac simile^ it is said, of one 
in gold which formerly covered the print on the apex of the 
cone. A great difference in temperature is felt at this place, 
particularly at night, and the creeping plants which cover the 
trees lower down vield to mosses and ferns, while rhodo- 
dendrons and ImpatienSy with their curious scarlet flowers, 
become abundant. 

From Palabaddula all proceed on foot, no other mode of 
travelling being possible for the rest of the way : about a 
quarter of a mile from it you pass a torrent on a plank, and 
then up a steep ascent through a gloomy forest, which ends in 
a little precipitous platform or tableland called Deabetine. 
Until the toiling traveller reaches this place he seldom gets 
a view of the summit of the Peak, being hidden by clouds, 
intervening hills, and the dense foliage which overhangs the 
path ; but, on reaching this spot, " the majestic cone presents 
itself towering into the sky with unsurpassed grandeur, there 
being still three miles of tremendous acclivity before you 
reach the summit." ^ John, of Marignolli, in 1349, remarks : 
** On the way down there is a fine level place still at a great 
height where you find, first, the mark of Adam's foot, secondly, 
a statue ^ with the left hand on the knee and the right hand 
raised towards the west ; lastly, the house which Adam made 

^ Tennent. The Asiatic Journal, 1816, p. 442, says '*it was supposed to be 
15,000 feet high, until Dr. Davj- ascended it" Sec p. 21. 
2 Catliay, p. 358. 


with his own hands." The fine level place is evidently 
Deabetine, and the statue the figure of a man, or Buddha, 
traced on the side of the rock : but Adam's house no longer 
exists in the eyes of the present unbelieving generation. 

Ibn Batuta, in his journey to the Peak, says, *' we came to 
a place called the ' seven caves,' and after that to the * ridge of 
Alexander,' at which place is the entrance to the mountain. 
When we ascended we saw the clouds passing between us and 
the foot." The seven caves and the ridge of Alexander 
cannot now be identified, unless he meant the deep ravines 
and the great mass of granite near Deabetine. The air at this 
place, from its great elevation is cold and damp, the ther- 
mometer ranging from 49° to 60°. 

Dr. Davy describes some grand and curious optical pheno- 
mena that sometimes occur on the mountain during thunder- 
storms and dense mists, which appear like frozen rivers and 
lakes. During the monsoons the Peak is quite sublime, while 
the lightning flashes around it, revealing through the gloom 
at intervals the mighty rock that crowns the summit. 

On leaving Deabetine, the path at first descends through 
ravines to a large torrent named Sitaganga, a branch of the 
Kalu which flows over enormous masses of granite. It is 
usual for native pilgrims to purify themselves by bathing in 
this stream before they approach the footprint. Wild fruits 
are sometimes found in it, which, legends say, proceed from a 
garden Adam or Saman had somewhere in the vicinity, and 
that any adventurous explorer, tempted by curiosity to try and 
discover it, never returns. Passing the stream, the ascent 
recommences up four flights of rude steps cut in the solid rock, 
the last containing about ninety steps, there being nearly 200 
in the whole.^ It is not known when they were made, only the 
"Raja-ratnacari " (p. 131) says " they were cut by a Sinhalese 
king, who made a pilgrimage to the Peak, and noticed the 
difficulty of ascending it." Probably Prakrama Bdhu I, whom 
the chronicles mention, went there in the twelfth century. 
They were considered old even in Batuta's time. He remarks, 

* ** Buddhists believe the st^ps cannot be counted correctly, and the same belief 
exists in England aboat the stones of Stonehenge." Skeen, p. 171. 

c 2 


the ancients hare cut something like steps upon which we 
may ascend (p. 189). The path next leads through a steep 
ravine, formed of huge blocks of brown ironstone, to the base 
of the stupendous rock, more than forty feet high, and almost 
perpendicular, which forms the pinnacle of the Peak. From 
this point further progress would be impossible to any ordinary 
person without the aid of the iron chains secured to the solid 
granite. How the first adventurers got over the difficulty has 
not been explained; but the first traveller who mentions 
chains is Marco Polo, 1292 : then Ibn Batuta about fifty years 
afterwards {cide ch. xii. p. 261). There are several of them 
fastened to the rock with different shaped links, some appear- 
ing much older than others, and may be the same described 
by the Mahometan more than fom* centuries since ; but their 
origin is unkno^TL Some of the newer chains are said to 
have been the gift of rich pilgrims to replace others worn out. 
Sir W. Ousley says, Ashref, who wrote a poem on the con- 
quests of " Eskander," ascribes these chains to the Conqueror 
and the philosopher Bolinus, who devised them — " fixing 
chains with rings and rivets of brass and iron, the remains of 
which exist to this da}^ so that travellers by their assistance 
are enabled to climb the mountain of Serendib and obtain 
fjlor}' by finding the sepulchre of Adam, on whom be the 
blessing of God.** Unfortunately for the accuracy of the poet, 
the philosopher Bolinus, so far fi-om being a contemporary of 
Alexander, lived several centuries after him, having been no 
other than Apollonius of Tyana,^ a maker of magical talis- 

As one climbs up this fearful ladder the timid must not 
hesitate lest a gust of wind should blow the adventurous 
climber from his holding, neither should the eyes be turned 
downwards into the abyss below for fear of being seized with 
giddiness. As Ibn Batuta well remarks : " The frightful 
notion seizes one that he will fall." The last step is the worst 
of all, as one lands at a very awkward comer on the terrace, or 
ledge, surrounding a mass of rock about nine feet higher in 

* Pocotke, Hist. Dynast. Oxford, 1663, quoted by Sir W. Oualey, Trav. i. 67. 
(Vide ch.ix.) 


the centre, which forms the extreme apex of the mountain, on 
the top of which is placed a picturesque little wooden temple, 
secured jfrom sudden gusts- of wind by chains fastened to 
the rock. Inside the temple is the ** Sri pada," or footprint* 
apparently a natural indentation in the rock, artificially made 
to assume the shape of a man*s left foot, with mortar to make 
up the outline, about five feet long and two and a haK broad, 
over which is placed a brass cover, a substitute for the original 
in gold, which has long since disappeared.^ 

The terrace which forms the summit of the Peak is 7420 feet 
above the sea, of an oval form, sixty-four feet by forty-five, 
and surrounded by a wall five feet high. Besides the temple 
there is a small shed with two compartments for the priests 
in charge of it, who usually reside in the hamlets lower down 
the mountain. Raja Singha I., when he became a Brahmin, 
installed some Anadee Fakers on the shi-ine, who were after- 
wards expelled and the Buddhists re-established in their old 

During the time of the annual pilgrimages in March, when 
hundreds of both sexes, including many Malabar Christians, 
clamber up the sides of the Peak, the ceiling of the temple 
is hung with white cloths and decorated with flowers, while the 
perfume of the champac and sandal floats through the air. 
The worship consists of offerings of rhododendron flowers,^ 
short invocations accompanied with genuflections, and shouts 
of ** sadoo" (amen), the whole concluding by ringing a bell and 
partaking of some very cold water from a spring on the 
northern side of the rock, a little way below the summit : it is 
stated that leaves of trees are sometimes found in it, and the 
pilgrims believe that they are turned up from Paradise, there 
being a supposed communication between them. Marignolli 
mentions this idea. {Vide ch. xii.) 

Notwithstanding the varied religions professed by the crowd 
on these occasions and the rival claims to the foot print, 

' 15ald«U8, iii. fiSO, 

^ Tumour, *' Epitome," p. 51. ^ 

' More substantial oflerings are also made to the priests for their support, 
amounting, it is said, to from 250/. to 300/. per annum. 


there is no discord — all seems awed into peace and good-will 
by the sublimity of the position and the grandeur of the scene 
around them. And well they may, as the panorama from 
Adam's Peak is one of the grandest in the world; for it 
has been remarked although people climb many mountains 
much higher there are few which present so unobstructed a 
view over land, or towers so much over the surrounding 

On the north and east the eye ranges over the Kandyan 
hills, turning to the south and west are undulating plains of 
light and verdure, with rivers showing out at intervals in 
their silvery course, while in the extreme distance the glitter 
of the sun on the suif marks the line of the coast. This grand 
view is frequently eclipsed by clouds or dense mists which 
envelope the summit when neither land nor sky can be seen, 
the mountain appears to melt away under your feet and you 
feel suddenly lost in a cloud, without a footing on earth. 
The sensation which it produces is very peculiar, and must 
be felt to be understood. There is a common belief among 
the pilgrims that water is found in the hollow of the foot- 
print which cures all diseases, many who are afflicted resort- 
ing to the mountain on this account. 

This belief is mentioned in several Chinese books. The 
records of the Ming dynasty (a.d. 1522), quoted by M. Pau- 
thier in his edition of Marco Polo, p. 588, says, " Au milieu de 
cette empreinte il y a une legere couche d'eau, qui ne se desseche 
ni ne tarit pendant les quatre saisons de Tannee. Tons ceux 
qui sont k la portee y trempent leur main pour en bassiner 
leurs yeux et laver leur visage, disant que Teau de Foe purifie 
et enleve toutes les souillures." Sir E. Tennent quotes an- 
other MS., dated a.d. 1350, which says that " invalids recover 
by drinking from a well at the foot of the mountain (i. 609). 
The Ming-see also states that in the same place there was a 
temple which contained the body of Buddha, with many of 
his relics, and, according to tradition, he was absorbed from 
thence into Nirvana," which is contrary to the usual Buddhist 

* Teunent. 



statements that he died at Kusinaria, in India, and seems to 
refer to Kwan-yin. (Vide ch. xxiii.) 

The descent from the Peak is accomplished by the same 
route the visitor ascends as far as Ratnapoora, here travellers 
usually take a boat and descend the Kalu to Caltura. The 
boats are made of two trunks of trees hollowed out and 
fastened together at some distance from each other by a 
platform covered with a bower of leaves. The upper part of 
the KalUy named from its dark colour, is full of rapids and 
has a very strong current, which carries a boat rapidly to the 
coast, but on their return they are dragged with great toil 
over parts of the river by ropes. Nothing can be more 
rich and beautiful than this river's scenery, presenting every 
characteristic of the tropics. 



Books and Writings. — The books of the Sinhalese are made 
of pahnyra or talipat leaves, called '* olas." A number being 
cut the same length and placed over each other, with a piece 
of thin wood or ivory above and below for covers, a string 
runs through a hole made in the covers and all the leaves at 
each end, which are thus strung together, something like 
wooden window-blinds. These books are of various lengths 
and thickness, but the breadth of all is about the same : some 
of the larger ones are nearly three feet long, two and a half 
inches broad, and contain many hundred leaves, with eight or 
nine lines of writing on each. The best kinds are said to last 
for more than 500 years. Their preservation for so long a 
period being attributed to the aromatic quality of the dumiila 
resin used for making the black varnish rubbed into the marks 
made by the style employed to trace the letters on the leaves. 

Talipat leaves are prepared for writing by boiling or steep- 
ing in hot water or milk, after which they are dried, pressed, 
and smoothed with a piece of wood having a sharp edge ; a 
considerable amount of care is bestowed in preparing the finer 
kinds, whieh are highly polished. Olas are also used for keeping 
accounts by shopkeepers in Ceylon, India, and Burmah. When 
rolled up and secured with wax they were formerly sent through 
the post-ofl5ce as letters. Pliny (xiii. 21) remarks " that the 
most ancient way of writing was on palm leaves, hence the 
term folium, or leaf, applied to books ;" and Prescott, in his 
'* History of South America," says, " the Mejdcans, before the 


arrival of the Spaniards, used the leaves of the aloe for writing 
on, made into books shut up like a fan." 

Contracts and legal documents are often engraved on silver, 
ivory, or copper tablets, similar in shape to olas. An in- 
scription on the rock at Dambool (a.d, 1200) records that 
permanent grants of land should be engraved on copper-plates, 
so as to endure for ever and be beyond the power of rats 
and mice. 

A school was established in every village by Wijayo Bdhu Til. 
and others at Pollanarrua by Praki'ama,^ and we may infer 
that writing was not exclusively confined to the priesthood. 
The *' RajavaU " (p. 189) says, the king's brother (b.c. 200), 
who was taught by a Tirunansi, could write almost as well as 
himself, and the writing of letters by princesses and others is 
several times mentioned in the Chronicles ; still the clergy 
were doubtless the chief depositories of learning, the study of 
the Pali was obligatory on their order, and the literature of 
the ancient Sinhalese is almost exclusively ecclesiastical. At 
the present time elementary education is not uncommon 
among Buddhists, there being usually a school attached to 
each Pansala : in Burmah every person is said to be able to 
read and write. 

The " Asiatic Researches" (vii. 422) alludes to a tradition in 
the island that the art of writing was known there in the time 
of Asoka. The Rev. S. Hardy thinks it must have been intro- 
duced after the language at present in use was formed.^ How- 
ever, it is doubtful if any of the legends or doctrines of 
Buddha were committed to writing in Ceylon until 104 to 
70 B.C., or about one hundred and fifty years after the intro- 
duction of his creed into the island, during that interval 
being taught orally. 

In India also Buddha's doctrines appear to have been com- 
municated traditionally for a long time. After his death, we 
are told, three or four convocations of learned priests were 
held at intervals in India, where the discourses delivered by 
Buddha were recited by those who had committed them to 

* Upham, Maha, p. 274. 

2 Legeads of the Baddhists, p. 25, ed. 1866. East. Mona. p. 160. 


memory, and any errors detected were corrected, and thus 
handed down for several generations. The first of these as- 
semblies was held under the auspices of Maha Kasypa, 
Buddha's successor, two months after his death ; and the last, 
attended by many hundred priests, in the reign of Asoka, 
about B.C. 250, when the recital and arranging of the .tradi- 
tions occupied nine months.^ They must have been possessed 
of almost incredible powers of memory to have accurately 
retained the great mass of legends contained in their books, • 
and the statement can only be received with the greatest sus- 
picion. The accuracy of the " Mahawanso's" description of 
the councils is doubted, as the northern and southern MS. do 
not agree about them ; also Fa-Hian makes no mention of the 
great council said to have been held at Pataliputra in the 
reign of Asoka, yet he resided there for three years at the 
very time that Buddhaghoso was compiling the " Atthakatha " 
in Ceylon.^ 

A fourth council known only to northern Buddhists, and 
the last according to them, is said to have taken place in the 
reign of Kanishka, Raja of Kashmir, circa B.C. 143 to a.d. 45. 
(Vide note to the Calcutta edition of the *' Lalita Vistara.*') 

The period when the doctrines thus collected and arranged 
were first committed to writing is lost in the mists of time : 
no Indian Buddhist works can be traced farther back than 
A.D. 76, when the " Lalita Vistara ** was translated into 
Chinese, but this work may have been compiled or written 
B.C. 150.^ A species of Sanskrit called ** gdthd" occurring 
in the " Lalita " led Bumouf to suppose there was another 
digest of Buddhist literature, besides those named, when the 
doctrines were compiled in gdthi, but has been lost. 

Although the Buddhists of India may not have committed 
their doctrines to writing until the period surmised, it is clear 
they were acquainted with letters or S3Tnbols at the time of 
Asoka, which is shown by the Girnar inscriptions, and the 
" Mahawanso " (ch. v.) mentions incidentally " that despatches 

> Mahaw. ch. iiL , xxui. J. A. S. Beng., 1837, vi. 684 ; vii. 279, 714. 

3 Beal's F»-Hian. Also 8[>elt Arthakathd and Buddkaghdsa. 

• Prof. Wilson, J. R. A. S. xvi. Bumouf, *' Hist, du Bud." ( Vide ch. x.) 


were sent to Asoka ; also (ch. viii.) that Wijayo sent a letter to 
India." {Vide note, p. 82.) 

The doctrines of Buddha appear to have been arranged in 
verse, and, as has been explained (ch. vii.), this kind of com- 
position is exceedingly obscure and requires an explanatory 
commentary, called *' Atthakatha,** the text or Pitaka being 
comparatively worthless without it. The commentary appears 
to have been also recited and revised at the convocations. 

When Mahindo or Mahendra came to Ceylon, in the middle 
of the third century B.C. for the conversion of the island to 
Buddhism, he is said to have carried in his memory the whole 
of the commentary on the text of the ** Pitakas," and pro- 
mulgated them in the native language, but whether the com- 
mentary was written out by him, or not, does not seem to be 
quite clear. The '* Mahawanso" says, the "Pitakas** and 
** Atthakatha" having been collected and settled at the third 
convocation (b.c. 246) were brought to Ceylon by Mahendra, 
who promulgated them orally .... but between the yeara 
B.C. 104 and 76, to prevent the perversion of the truth, the 
priests recorded the same in books " (ch. xxxii). Tumour 
was of opinion the '* Atthakatha" was brought in writing from 
India by Mahendra, and the Buddhist doctrines reduced to 
writing from the commencement of his mission in Ceylon, a 
fact kept concealed by the priests to enhance themselves by a 
supposed gift of inspiration.^ 

A statement occurs in Buddhaghoso's commentary on the 
" Brahmagala sutra *' where he says, '* a commentary on this 
portion of the Buddhist canon, existing during Sakya*s life- 
time was rehearsed and settled at the first council after his 
death, and carried to Ceylon by Mahendra, where it was trans- 
lated by him into the Sinhalese language," leading to the idea 
that Buddhist doctrines were committed to writing much 
earlier than is supposed. However Mr. Childers, who referred 
this question to the Ceylon priests, obtained the explanation, 
that Buddhaghoso most probably only meant an oral version, 
where the meanings to be attached to various words or terms 
taken from the Hindu Pantheon were settled; Atthakatha, or 

> J. A. S. Beng.,1838, p. 922. 


council, being derived from " attha'' (meaning) and " katha^^ 

The only authentic written version of the ** Atthakatha" 
now extant in Ceylon (probably in the same wording as when 
composed) is that compiled in Pali by Buddhaghoso, a.d. 420 
from documents in Sinhalese, which have perished. Buddha- 
ghoso was a Brahmin, who became a convert to Buddhism in 
India, and sent to Ceylon to make a translation of the Sinha- 
lese '* Atthakatha," as the conunentary on the Pali text of 
the *' Pitakas " was not to be found in the peninsula. On his 
arrival in Ceylon the priests were at first unwilling to give 
him their commentary, but became afterwards so charmed 
with his learning they called him "Buddhaghoso," the voice 
of Buddha himself.^ 

Max Miiller, in the preface to the "Parables of Buddha- 
ghoso," and commentary on the " Dhammapada," referring to 
a previous opinion on this subject in his " Chips from a 
German Workshop," says, " it was in deference to an over 
cautious criticism that I have claimed no earlier date than 
that of Buddhaghoso for the curious relics of the fable litera- 
ture of India, as a scholar might refer the date of the parables 
to the third century B.C., without exposing himself to much 
criticism. Buddhaghoso*s version may be part of a more 
ancient work, perhaps that of Mahindo," 

According to Bumouf, the oldest Buddhist documents to be 
found are the Sanskrit versions of Nepal, and after them 
the Pali of Ceylon ; but there is some reason to suppose that 
the Sanskrit texts of India were taken from the Pali.^ 

Buddhist scriptures are called in Pali the " Tripitaka," (three 
Pitakas or Treasuries*:) one relates to Vinaya, or discipline; 
another to Abhidharma, or metaphysics ; the third containing 
Sutras, or discom'ses. They are exceedingly voluminous, the 
text of the "Pitakas" contains 592,000 stanzas, written on 
4,500 leaves, and the commentaries nearly as many more. 

» J. R. A. S. V. 291. Now series. ' Mahaw. ch. xxxvii. 252, 

' Mr. Childers, J. R. A. I., v. 227. Parab. of Bud. ed. 1870, prcf. xviL 
Chii>s, &c.,i. 196. 

* Also called the Pitakattaya or " three basket*," 


The most popular of the "Pitakas*'are the legendary tales (Sutra 
Pitakas or Jd,takas), supposed to have been related by Sakya 
in his Sutras, describing among other things the nimierous 
transmigrations through which he passed preparatory to at- 
taining the Buddhahood. Of late years great progress has been 
made in translating Buddha's Sutras into English and other 
European languages, many by the Revs, Hardy and Gogerly, 
in local and other periodicals. The recent numbers of the 
"Journal Asiatique," Paris, 1870 to 1873, contain the " Pa- 
rijta," by Gogerly ; and other French versions by Grimblot, &c. 
The Rev, S, Beal has also translated some Chinese versions. 
One is struck in reading these legends with the admirable 
Aiorality^ generally inculcated in them, and the resemblance 
many of the narratives bear to those in the Bible, and some 
of the fables of ^sop. The Judgment of Solomon (Kings, 
iii, 16) has a parallel in the Jdtakas: ''a woman who was 
bathing left her child on the banks of a river, when it was 
stolen, but discovered afterwards in the possession of another 
woman. Both appeared before Buddha claiming the child ; he 
ordered them to pull it in opposite directions by the legs — 
it of course began to cry, when the real mother pitying the 
infant resigned it to the other woman, when the judge decided 
in her favour."^ The religious repose of the kingdom of 
Asoka imder the influence of Buddhism resembles the period 
of peace foretold in Isaiah (xi.[6, 7, 8), " tigei^s lead forth herds 
of cattle to graze, elk and wild hogs watched over the fields, 
mice husked paddy for the king's table, and bears worked with 
hammers in his arsenals," ( Mahaw., ch. v. 23.) 

The " Mahawanso," as well as other native chronicles, con- 
tain several parodies from the Bible — for instance, that of 
Elisha satisfying a hundred men with twenty loaves (2 Kings, 
iv. 42) ; the transmission of the mantle of Elijah (2 Kings, ii. 
13), and the chariot of fire in the same chapter. The passage 

* Bishop Bigandet says, " most of the moral traths of the Gospel are met with 
in the Buddhist scriptures," p. 495: — Probably interpolations from western sources. 
The Thibetan version, called the Ka-gyer, contains 100 volumes. 

' Roberts, Orien. lUus. p. 191. Hardy, East. Mona. Some of the Pitakas will 
be found in Upham's iSacrcd books of Ceylon, and Rev. Hardy's Buddhism. 


of the Red Sea is parodied in the exploit of King Gaja B^hu 
(a.d. 109) when marching his army to India, in order to bring 
back the Sinhalese from captivity in SoUee (" Rajarat," p. 58). 
There is also in the " Mahawanso" a story which bears a great 
resemblance to that of St. Hubert of Bel^um, and speaks of 
the washing and anointing of priests' feet by kings (p. 157). 

One of the most remarkable of the Buddhist books is called 
** Milinda Panha," or ** the Questions of Milinda," containing 
an account of a controversy between Niga Sena, a Buddhist 
apostle (B.C. 43), and Milinda, Raja of S£gal& or Lahore,^ a 
supposed descendant of Selucius Nicator, King of Yona or 
Bactria, in the time of Asoka, whose name occurs in the 
Girnar inscription. These Asiatic Greeks have been called 
** Yons," or Yonicas, but the name is said to have existed in 
India before the time of Alexander. In the " Milinda Panha" 
we find a story resembling the parable of the Sower (Mark, 
iv. 4.) 

The intercourse that existed between Rome and India, 
from the time of Augustus, and the trade with Alexandria, 
must have tended to introduce western ideas. {Vide ch. ix.) 
Fergusson, in his " Tree and Serpent Worship," points out the 
apparent influence of Roman enterprise and art on Indian 
architecture. But other influences have left a deeper impres- 
sion on the literature of India. Nestorian Christians were 
numerous in the peninsula. Then there were the Jews in 
Affghanistan, the descendants of those carried away in cap- 
tivity by Shalmanesar, who eventually extended along the 
western coast of India and founded colonies near Cochin, 
being known as the black Jews of Malabar. Other colonies of 
Jews are said to have from time to time settled in Malabar, 
including a large emigration from Jerusalem when it was 
destroyed by the Romans (a.d. 68), whose descendants are 
called the white Jews of Malabar.^ There is a tradition among 

> Turnour, J. A. S. Beng., 1836, v. 530 ; vii. 159. Childera, Pali Diet. p. x. 

^ Benjamin of Tudela, a Jewish Rabbi, who travelled in India (a.d. 1160), speaks 
of a Jewish colony in Malabar, and says they were descended from the tribes 
carried off by Shalmanesar, and had copies of the Talmud. Chartron's Voy. vi. 10. 
Friar Odoric, Linschotten, and several other travellers also mention them. Baldeus 


the Jews of Cochin that they arriyed there in the time of 
Cyrus (B.C. 540). A Portuguese work, " Noticias dos Judeas," 
says, seventy or eighty Jews came there from Majorca (a.d. 
869). {Vide Tohfut-ul-Mujahideen.) 

** The laws of Menu closely resemble those of Moses, and it 
was probably from the Hebrew rolls still preserved by the 
Jews in India that the Buddhists borrowed the numerous 
incidents which we find reproduced in Sinhalese books." ^ 
Eoberts, in his " Oriental Illustrations," gives an immense 
nmnber of instances of similarity between the Bible and the 
legends and manners of India ; and points out the " identity 
of some of the Hindu idols worshipped by the Tamils in 
Ceylon at the present day with the deities of Egypt and 
Babylon. Isis, the Egyptian goddess with cow's horns, finds 
a parallel in one of Seva's wives, called '* Sacti," decorated 
with a crescent, while the Egyptians and Hindus both worship 
the bull." 

It is related that the officers who accompanied the expe- 
dition sent to Egypt from India in 1800, commanded by Sir 
D. Baird (to assist in expelling the French), were very 
much surprised at seeing the Sepoys fall down on their knees 
before the Egyptian hieroglyphics. There is a long article by 
Colonel Wilford in the " Asiatic Researches " on the connection 
between the religion of the Brahmins and that of Egypt and 
an ancient Eg}i)tian colony established in India. Mr. Bryant 
was of opinion many of the Indian sciences were imported 
from Egypt.^ 

The common origin of the Hindu, Greek, Roman, Egyptian, 
and even Anglo-Saxon idolatry, and the identity of the deities 
worshipped under different names by widely separated races 
is now generally admitted. Hindu and Sanskrit mythology is 
of Babylonian origin, and western gods were brought to India 

traces the origin of the Brahmins to Abraham, who sent his sons to the East, 
Gen. ch. xxv. 6. 

» Tennent, vol. ii., ch. x., J. A. S. Beng., 1851, p. 876. **The parables of 
Buddhaghoso show the migration of fables from east to west and back again,'* 
Max MUlIer, pref. vii. 

' Asiat. Res., i. 229 ; iii. 295 ; Bryant's Mytho., iv. 256 ; Pritchard's AnalysU 
of Egyptian Mjrtho. — Asiat. Jour. 1830. 


by the Aryans, the same gods being found in the Zend and 
Sanskrit. The Holi or Dolayatra festivals of the Hindus, 
which take place in March all over India, resemble the 
Bacchanalia and Carnival of Home and Greece, and the May- 
day festival of the Himalaya that of the sweeps of England. 

It has been stated that the doctrines of Christianity are 
found in Brahmin works or sculptured on Indian temples 
centuries before our era ; but it is doubtful that Hindu legends 
assumed a written form before the Christian era, the time 
when they were first reduced to writing being imknown. Sir 
W. Jones was of opinion that interpolation from Christian 
and Hebrew sources was practised by the Brahmins. The 
*' Ramayana " is not all original, some passages being inter- 
polated. Buddha accusefd the Brahmins of corrupting the 
*^Vedas," and Bumouf points out that the term ** Krishna" 
does not appear once in the whole of the Buddhist works 
read by him : it could hardly fail to have been mentioned by 
Buddha, had this deity occupied the position among the 
Brahmins at the time stated, especially as Buddha repeatedly 
mentions their other gods.^ K we turn to the rock and pillar in- 
scriptions, almost imperishable documents, none are older than 
those of Asoka (b.c. 250), and in them there is no mention of 
Christian, but of doctrines resembling the Jewish. The term 
" Krishna " has been found in an Aryan Pali inscription on a 
granite boulder at Khuniara, in the Kangra district. Northern 
India, attributed to the first or second century a.d., and the 
earliest instance yet discovered.^ Mr. Fergusson has shown 
that the rock temples of India are not so old as was sup- 
posed, none being more ancient than the second century b.c, 
and there is no other species of temple or edifice as old as the 
first century of our era. (J. R. A. S. viii.) 

* Bumouf, Hist, du Bud., p. 136. It must be admitted that ** Krishna *' occurs in 
the latest "Braminas," supposed to have been composed B.C. 600. 

' J. A. S. Beng., 1854—59. General Cunningham in the Archseological Surrey 
of India, J. A. S. Beng. 1868, p. xlix, thinks some of the cave temples were 
excavated in the time of Asoka, and the whole of them before the third century, 
A.D., the earthen topes are older than Buddha. " Last year he dis(!Overed some 
Buddhist inscriptions in Asoka characters (supposed to be of the third century, 
IJ.C.) containing sentences identical with some in the *Vinaya Pitaka,' pro- 
bably (quotations from it." Childers' Pali Diet. p. ix. 


The Greeks knew the art of writing b,c. 800. A public 
library existed at Athens B.C. 526, and Herodotus lived about 
the time of Buddha. The Codex Cottonianvs of the Septuagint 
version is supposed to be the identical copy that belonged to 
Origen (a.d. 250). Similar evidences are wanting in India ; 
there is no bond fde copy of Sanskrit " MS.*' as old as Chris- 
tianity, none of the Purdnas were composed before the ninth 
century a.d., and it is a curious circumstance that neither 
the words, book, volume, page, nor any term referring to writing 
can be found in their early works. The earliest mention of 
anything of the kind occurs in the " Lalita Vistara," where 
Buddha is represented as learning to write.^ Megasthenes 
says, their laws were not written, being only oral. 

M. Grimblot, the French consul at Galle, during his resi- 
dence in Ceylon, made a large collection of Buddhist literature, 
amounting to 14,000 palm leaves, which on his return to Paris . 
were deposited in the Imperial Library, Paris. An account of 
them by M. Barth6lemy Saint Hilaire will be found in the 
"Journal des Savans" for 1866.* In the "Blue-books" for 
1870 (xlix. 417) there is a correspondence relative to a project 
of the Indian government for collecting all the ancient MSS. 
that can be found both in the peninsula and Ceylon, from 
which it would seem that the Sanskrit MSS. in the island have 
been imported from India and are already known, but im- 
portant Pali and Sinhalese MSS. would probably be found in 
some of the pansalas of the north-western province, from 
whence an ancient Sinhalese copy of the ** Vinaya Pitaka," or 
laws of the Buddhist priests, and an account of his relics, 
quite free from the usual bombast, have been obtained. In many 
instances the priests are ignorant of the nature or value of the 
old MSS. in tlieir pansalas ; however, the number of im- 
portant original works in Ceylon is not great, as many were 
destroyed by Raja Singha I., who burnt great heaps of them 
when he became a Brahmin (a.d. 1571). Numbers were also 
taken to Siam at various times, where there is such a 
store of them an embassy was sent from Ceylon, in 1789, to 

* Rev. S. Hanly, Legends of the Bud. Max Miillcr, Hist. Sansk- Lit p. 500—17. 
' See also the " Saturday Review," July 28, 1866. 



bring some back. Tumour obtained a second '' Tika" on the 
" Mahawanso/' and a copy of the " Dipawanso" from Burmah.^ 

A public library for the deposit of native works has been 
recently established at Colombo, which was commenced under 
the auspices of Sir H. Bobinson, in 1869. The Bev. S. Hardy, 
in the Ceylon branch of the Asiatic Society's Journal for 1848, 
gives a list of 467 works, eighty of which are Sanskrit, one 
hundred and fifty Elu, and the rest Pali, including twenty-six 
grammars, many of them copies of Kachchayano's Pali grammar, 
a very ancient work, which has been lost. There are very few 
books in modem Sinhalese, but many of the Pali works are 
written in the vernacular alphabet instead of the ancient 
N^ari. While Mr. Tumour was translating his "Maha- 
wanso," Mr. Tolfrey, another civil servant in Ceylon, was en- 
gaged on a Pali grammar and vocabulary, with a Sinhalese 
dictionary, which his death leaving unfinished was completed 
and published in 1821 by the Bev. Mr. Clough. A Pali dic- 
tionary has been recently published by Mr. Childers, Ceylon 
Civil Service, the only thing of the kind,^ and a descriptive 
catalogue of Sanskrit, Pali, and Sinhalese works by D'Alwis 
(1870). In addition to the Buddhist scriptures there are nume- 
rous ballads and poems in honour of the Brahmin deities, 
Seva, Patine, and Ganesa, with many treatises on medicine or 
kindred subjects in Sanskrit and Pali translations. 

Language. — Pali and Elu, or Sinhalese, are both derived 
from Northern India, being modifications of the Sanskrit. 
Elu, which closely resembles Pali and Sanskrit (probably in- 
troduced from Northern India at a remote period) is supposed 
to have been the vernacular of the natives when Wijayo 
landed, the use of the Pali being introduced with his conquest, 
and the establishment of Buddhism, much in the same way as 
Norman French became the language of the court, law, and 
upper classes in England at the Norman Conquest, both being 
again supplanted by the original vernacular in both islands, 

> J. A. S. Beng., vi. 1054. 

' Triibner's Lit. Hecord, July, 1870. Knox records a curious Sinhalese pro- 
verb, which says, '* None can reproach a king or a beggar, as they are both above 
shame," p. 38. 


much changed, however, during the interval by the intro- 
duction of many foreign words. Thus modem Sinhalese con- 
tains a great admixture of Sanskrit and some Tamil words, 
proceeding from intercourse with India. Elu is now only used 
in poetry. D'Alwis says he can with great confidence disprove 
the statement of Sir E. Tennent (vol. i. 328): "That 
Sinhalese, as now spoken, and still more strikingly as a written 
language, presents unequivocal proof of its affinity to the 
Tamil and Malayan gi'oup of dialects." " The Sinhalese lan- 
guage bears no affinity to the Dravidian, being as independent 
of the Dravidian as the latter is of Sanskrit. Since the 
Wijayo conquest the inhabitants and language of the island 
have been so Aryan no trace of the Dravidian is to be found. 
There is some resemblance between modem Sinhalese and 
Tamil letters, both being derived from Deva NAgari ; the Sin- 
halese alphabet now current is not the ancient one, which 
was probably the old form of Deva N^ari, similar to the 
inscriptions of Asoka." ^ 

The majority of the Sinhalese characters are round, and 
" the alphabet contains the Sanskrit vowels, but they are 
unknown to the language itself." With the exception of number 
eight, " ettu,'' in Tamil " atot," in Sinhalese there is no 
resemblance in the numerals of the two languages, an im- 
portant feature in the alliance of languages. Modem Tamil, 
or Malabar, is so little understood by the Sinhalese, and vice 
versd, Government proclamations are posted in the two lan- 
guages. The Rodiyas speak a dialect quite unlike the Sinha- 
lese, but it is not known to what language it is allied. 

The origin of the languages and alphabets of India is a sub- 
ject upon which various opinions are formed. The antiquity 
of the Sanskrit has been denied by many philologists, some 
of whom say both the Sanskrit and Lat alphabets are derived 
from the Dravidian, as the Aryans brought no alphabet with 
them.^ As far as the rock and Lat inscriptions are con- 

' D*Alwig on the Origin of the Sinhalese Language, Jour, of the Ceylon branch 
of the R. A. S. 1865—6, 1870, pp. 143, 150 ; W. W. Hunter, Aborig. Lang, of 
Indi^. ** Pali has been a dead language for 2000 years." Childers, Diet. 

* J. R. A. S., V. 423, new series. 

D 2 


cemed, there can be no doubt the Pali or Lat alphabet i8 
the oldest, no Sanskrit inscriptions having been found of an 
anterior date.^ The Sinhalese consider the Pali more ancient 
than the Sanskrit, being, according to the " Mahawanso," the 
root of all languages.^ If the Sanskrit alphabet is older than 
the Pali it must have existed in some form — as there are no 
inscriptions, there must have been writings ; but then it has 
been seen the existence of Sanskrit writings as old as the 
inscriptions of Asoka is very doubtful. Colonel Sykes doubts 
the antiquity of everything connected with the Brahmins. 
(Vide ch. xxiii.) 

Bajendral^la Mittra classes Indian languages in the order of 
antiquity as follows : — Sanskrit, Odthd, and Pali, then the 
Pr^rita, Sauraseni, Drdvedi, and Panchdli, which in their 
turn have changed into the vernaculars of India at the present 
time. The Gdthd he considers the oldest next to the Sanskrit, 
and the language of Northern India at the time of Buddha, 
followed by the Pali or Magadha in the time of Asoka, although 
some consider Magadha was the language used by Buddha. 
Nothing more is known until the tenth century, when Hindvl, 
which bears a close resemblance to the Sanskrit, was the 
vernacular of the civilized population of India, since then 
much changed and divided into dialects.^ 

Dr. Muir thinks the Sanskrit the oldest of the Indian lan- 
guages. He says, ** The Sanskrit, Zend, Greek, and Latin 
are all as it were sisters, daughters of one mother, who died 
in giving them bii*th .... that all the races of men who spoke 
these languages are also all descended from one stock sepa- 
rated by migration, their ancestors at a very remote period 
living in some coimtry out of India, and speaking one lan- 
guage."* It is rather strange that many Sanskrit words have 
been found in the Aboriginal language of New Zealand,^ and 
there are, it is said, 339 Sanskrit words in Homer.* 

> J. R. A. S., vi. 419. 

' Tumour's Epitome, xxii. Childere, Pali Diet. pref. 

» J. A. S. Beng., 1854, p. 614 ; 1864, p. 469—490. 

* Sanskrit Texts on the population of India, part ii, 275, 1860. 

* J. R. A. S., ii. 46. 

' Higgiiis, Auucaly|)ttis, i. 12. 


The most puzzling of all to account for are the Dravidian 
dialects of Southern India, said to be allied to the Tartar and 
Finnish, but when or how the people speaking them reached 
India is not known. {Vide ch. vii.) 

Some suppose the Dravidian dialects to resemble the Aus- 
tralian, but not the Pol3mesian.^ 

Arts and Sciences. — Weaving. — There is little doubt all the 
scientific knowledge and industrial arts in Ceylon are of Indian 
origin. The "Mahawanso" (p. 267) mentions that artizans 
were brought from the Peninsula, along with the Pandyan 
princess, who was Wijayo's second wife ; however, the inha- 
bitants, when he arrived, appear to have known the art of 
weaving — ^for Kuweni is represented as seated at the foot of a 
tree spinning when he landed and advanced towards her ; but 
this incident may have been introduced into his narrative by 
Mahanamoto produce a dramatic effect, being quite in character 
with the primitive simplicity of the times, (p. 48.) 

Mention is made in the " Mahawanso " of a white cloth for 
pilgrims to walk on, seven miles long ! (p. 213.) 

Asbestos towels were sent by Asoka as a present to the King 
of Ceylon. They are described as costly hand-towels, cleansed 
by being passed through a fire (p. 76) ; also cloth of gold, the 
kimbaub of India. 

Carpets of woollen fabric are mentioned in the second cen- 
tury B.C., evidently of Indian manufacture (p. 163). 

Bleaching and dyeing cloths of every hue is mentioned (a.d.) 
161 — and a curious custom described (p. 179) of taking cotton 
from the tree at daybreak, then spinning, weaving, and dyeing 
yellow, sufficient cloth to make robes for a priest before sun- 
set. ''It is said to be still practised in the island, and is a 
custom identical with that mentioned by Herodotus as ob- 
served by priests in Egypt, and not imlike the Scandinavian 
myth of the twelve weird sisters weaving the crimson web of 
War between sunrise and sunset," embodied in an ode among 
the Orcades of Thormodus Torfaeus Hafiiifle, translated by 
Gray in his " Fatal Sisters.'' 

A very primitive loom is employed in Ceylon for weaving 

» R. CaddweU, Drav. Gram., p. 53 ; D'Alwh., SiOatL Sanguta. 


cotton cloths : when using it the weaver sits on the ground 
with his feet in a hole. A considerable quantity of rough 
unbleached calico and towels are manufactured at Putlam 
and other places in the North. 

Fine Arts. — Mmic. — The "Mahawanso" speaks of a harp as 
early as 157 B.C., and of a procession, " where there was every 
description of vocal and instrumental music." ^ If we are to 
believe this, the art must have sadly declined ; for the music of 
the Sinhalese of the present day is little more than a succes- 
sion of nasal whines accompanied by " tom-toming," or beat- 
ing of the fingers on a rude drum, and they have a greater love 
for noise than harmony. Any person who has heard a Hindu 
mendicant, who performs in the streets of London, will have a 
very good idea of what their music is. They have also a sort 
of flageolet, and a primitive two-stringed species of violin, made 
of a cocoa-nut shell ; but they are rarely seen or used now. 

Paintings. — These productions, which are exclusively eccle- 
siastical subjects on walls of temples, are detestable, hard and 
dry deformities, copied with a rigid adherence to ancient 
models, without perspective or any effect of light and shade. 

Various wooden articles, such as lances, walking-sticks, 
and arrow -shafts, are prettily painted with a species of lacker. 
The colours are mixed with a resin which exudes from the 
A leurites, or Croton laccifera, named Wel-kappiteya by the Sin- 
halese. After the groundwork, which is usually black, has 
been painted, a raised network of solid paint is applied ; a bit 
of the paint is put on the end of a stick and heated, when it 
is drawn out into a filament, and then placed on the heated 
surface of the stick, and arranged with a finger-nail, which is 
allowed to grow long for this purpose. The colours used are 
black, vermilion, and chrome. 

A cement, or paint, made of vermilion mixed with tila, or 
tala oil, which is the Sinhalese for sesame, is mentioned b.c. 
157, in the ** Mahawanso " (p. 169) ; but as sesamum is not a 
drying oil, there is probably some mistake here — walnut, lin- 
seed, and poppy are the only real drpng oils ; paints, mixed with 

^ Maliaw., pp. 180, 186. 


any other, will not harden. The earliest use of oil as a medium 
in painting is said to be in the sixth century.^ 

Statuary and Carvings, — These are generally monstrous 
representations of Buddha, always designed in the three or- 
thodox positions — sitting or meditating, standing or preaching, 
and repose or nirvana. Chinese writers extol as a work of 
art a statue four feet high, sent from Ceylon to the Emperor 
Nyan-ti^ a.d. 418, which in all probability was a hideous mon- 
strosity. And Fa-hian gives a glowing description of those he 
saw in Ceylon, which had painted and gilt draperies with 
costly jewels for ornaments. One is described in the " Maha- 
wanso " A.D. 200, the eyes of which were formed of gems, and 
the curls of the hair of sapphires and threads of gold. 

Images of Buddha are so often designed with African 
features, woolly hair, and large ears, that Sir W. Jones * was 
inclined to believe from this circumstance that he was of 
African origin. Dr. Davy (p. 231), who also alludes to the 
fact, thinks it must be either accidental or a fanciful arrange- 
ment of the artists, and points out that they would not be 
likely to take negroes for a model, as the Sinhalese believed 
tormentors in hell resembled them. Short curly locks of hair 
on representations of Buddha are foimd among the sculptures 
on the Amravati-tope in India,* also on the heads of his attend- 
ants, which leads to the supposition that he belonged to some 
of the hill tribes of Bengal. Bays or glories are described as 
issuing from his head in the '* Lalita Vistara." 

Statues are made of wood, ivory, sandal, clay, chuman, &c. 
Bronze statues are mentioned in the " Mahawanso" a.d. 469. 

The Sinhalese are rather clever in turning and carving 
ivory, but their productions are very inferior to the Chinese. 
Linschoten ^ says, ** His master, the Bishop of Goa, had a 
crucifix in ivory an ell long presented to him by an inhabitant 
of the island, so neatly wrought and proportioned that it was 

> Sir C. L. Eastlake, " History of OU Painting." 

' Ma-toaan-lin. 

» Sir W. Jones, Works, i. 12. 

* J. Fergusson, F.R.S., on the Sanchi and Amravati- topes, p. 132, ed. 1868. 

* Travels, p. 25. 


sent to the King of Spain." Elephants* teeth, sawn in slices, 
are manufactured into snuff-boxes and various fancy articles. 

Working in precious Metals. — If we are to believe the " Ma- 
fa awanso/' gold was extensively used in decorations. In the 
second century ships are described as arriving with it, but 
they do not say from where. 

A golden plough was used for marking out consecrated 
ground (306 b.c.),^ and a pair of compasses, made of silver, 
pointed with gold, to describe a circle of immense size (157 
B.C.). About the same period an account is given of a Bo-tree 
of gold, eighteen cubits high ; the roots were made of coral, 
and the leaves, which were formed of gold, glittered with gems, 
the trunk was of silver, eighteen inches in circumference 
(p. 179). 

The description of a palace, or monastery, built by Duta- 
gaimunn, in the Maha megho garden at Anuradhapura (161 
B.C.) would suit the "Arabian Nights.'* — " A gilt hall, sup- 
ported by golden pillars, representing lions and other animals, 
was festooned with pearls and beads; a throne formed of 
ivory was surmounted with an emblem of the sun in gold, the 
moon in silver, and the stars in pearls; from it were sus- 
pended bunches of flowers made of gems. A cloth of ines- 
timable value covered the floor. There was an iwory fan of 
exquisite beauty ; a pair of slippers ornamented with beads ; a 
white parasol (an emblem of Royalty), with a silver handle and 
rows of silver bells ; the rice ladles, usually made of coco-nut 
shells, were of gold" (p. 169). 

The ** RajavaU " speaks of golden swords, shoes, and bands 
for the forehead, and the * * Ilajaratnacari '* of the gilding of brass, 
wood, &c. (p. 60). At the present time gold and silver are 
worked into jewellery with skill, but the workmen are princi- 
pally Tamils or Moors, and their tools of the most primitive 

Copper and Brass — are often mentioned in the annals, and 
various utensils made from them — lamps, bells, cooking vessels, 
goblets, and bathing-tubs. According to the ** Ilajaratnacari," 
brass vessels for holding priests* food were placed near the 

* Mahaw., pp. 99, 163, 172. 


Bo-tree.^ Lamps for bazaars, and other small articles, are still 
cast in the island. Dr. Davy describes an ancient brass lamp 
which he saw in the temple at Kattregam, constructed on very 
scientific principles, showing a knowledge of the pressure of 
the atmosphere. 

Pottery. — This, most ancient of arts, has made little pro- 
gress in the island. A very primitive potter's wheel is still in 
use, turned by a man, while another moulds the clay. Red- 
coloured earthenware, called chatties, of a globular form, with 
a narrow neck and round lip, are universally used for carrying 
and holding water, and basin-shaped vessels for cooking, which 
stand the fire admirably. Painted vases are mentioned in the 
" Mahawanso " at the time of Asoka, but it is not stated 
whether of foreign or native manufacture. 

Coins. — No Sinhalese coins have been found previous to the 
eleventh century, although the ** Mahawanso " (pp. 157, 175) 
speaks of their being in use in 161 B.C. It describes a gold 
coin, called '* kahapanna," also silver coins, and a gold 
** massa " worth eightpence ; but if gold was as valuable 
then as now, an eightpenny gold coin would be too small 
to handle. '* Massa " means a kind of bean, and is also a 
general name for grain or pulse. Golden masha grains were 
formerly used in trials by ordeal in India ; and Marsden says 
there is a Malay gold coin called massa. 

Prinsep, in an article in the " Journal of the Asiatic Society 
of Bengal, 1837," says, " there are no coins from Ceylon 
older than a gold one of 1060 a.d. belonging to the Sholean 
or Malabar dynasty, which would make it in reaUty an Indian 
coin. There has been found a gold coin of 1390, with the Nandi 
or Indian bull delineated on it, and copper coins of the eleventh 
and twelfth centuries have been dug up. The records of the 
Ming d3masty (1522) as quoted by Sir E. Tennent, speak of 
the fine gold coins of Ceylon.*' But where are they ? Since 
the arrival of the Europeans few countries have been so poor 
in the precious metals. Betel leaves were a currency in the 
time of the Portuguese in consequence of the scarcity of even 
copper coin. Great part of the royal revenue appears to have 

> Pp. 60, 104 ; Rajavali, pp. 190, 214. 


been always paid in kind ; according to Dr. Davy J£1500 was 
all the specie the last King of Kandy received. The French 
translator of " Ribeyro " makes him say erroneously " that 
hook-money was made in the island ;" but it was introduced 
by the Portuguese along with other coin. {Vide ch. xiii.) 

In the early part of this century larins, or hook-money, were 
in circulation in the Maldives, no vestige of the currency during 
the time of the Portuguese now remains. Under the Dutch, 
the various coins used in Holland were current in Ceylon ; 
but the peculiar coin of the colony was the copper stiver, now 
called **pice," thirty-six weighing one Dutch pound of copper. 
Gold pagodas were coined at Tutocorin, in the Dutch Mint 
there, and some silver rupees were coined by Falck and Van- 

A variety of foreign coins were also current, as the Spanish 
dollar and sicca rupee. 

In 1785, Yandergraff, finding the treasury in an embarrassed 
state, introduced a paper currency, the first ever known in the 
island, consisting of notes payable in copper stivers, at the 
rate of 48 for each rix- dollar, which was divided into 12 
fanams {l^d. English), and each fanam into 4 stivers In 
1787 Vandergraff coined stivers from old brass guns instead of 

When the English obtained possession of the island the 
depreciated copper coin and paper-money formed the chief 
currency. One of their first measures was the withdrawal of 
the latter, and the issue of a new copper coinage with treasury 
bills. But for many years money matters were in a bad state, 
silver and copper coin disappearing from unfavourable ex- 
changes, notwithstanding that the currency was much alloyed. 

At present, in addition to English coin, rupees, and rix- 
doUars, worth Is. 6d., are in circulation. The copper coins 
are chillies, pice, and fanams=ljd., 3 chillies=l pice, 4 
pice=l fanam. 

Various Arts. — Shops and bazaars are mentioned at Anu- 
radhapura where aromatic drugs were sold 204 B.C. ; ^ leather, 
perfumes, and camphor oil, 161 B.C. ; spices and scented oils, 

» Mahaw. pp. 139, 180, 208. 


259 B.C. ; a delicious fragrant cement made of jessamine 
flowers, 157 B.C. ; sweet spices, and a ^ugar-mill, 76 b.c. ; also 
lamp-wicks made of silk, 19 b.c.^ 

We may infer from the number of perfumes and essential 
oils mentioned in the chronicles that they must have had some 
knowledge of distillation at a very early period, although it is 
generally supposed to be a comparatively modem invention of 
the Arabians. 

It is not quite clear if the intoxicating liquids denounced by 
Buddha meant pure alcohol or liquids resembling beer, which 
Herodotus says was known to the Egyptians. A Sinhalese king, 
Sena FV., who reigned 1013 a.d., is stated in Tumour's 
** Epitome " to have died a victim to ardent spirits, and the 
liquor described by Abu Zaid as being made from the palms 
was probably arrack. {Vide ch. xi.) Dr. Ure (Diet, of Arts, 
1-42), says, ** the period when fermented liquids were first 
submitted to distillation, so as to obtain ardent spirits, is 
shrouded in much mystery." The only chemical operation of 
the modem Sinhalese is distillation performed with very rude 
implements ; their still being of earthenware joined to the 
refrigerator by a piece of bamboo pipe ; the refrigerator is a 
common chattie floating in a larger one containing cold water. 

Sandal makers, potters, blacksmiths, carpenters, stone- 
cutters, goldsmiths, and makers of water-strainers for priests, 
are alluded to a.d. 262.^ Devotees among the Buddhists 
strain the water they drink for fear of killing animalcules. 

A very good hone is made of corundum and kappiteya resin, 
melted together and poured into a mould. 

Domestic Furniture. — Beds and chairs are mentioned 204 b.c. 
The modem Sinhalese are very good carpenters, making beau- 
tiful furniture from the numerous and valuable woods of their 
island — such as ebony, calamander, satin, and jak. Some 
of the articles are elaborately carved and expensive ; jak wood 
is the commonest of all, and is of a yellow colour when first 
made up, but deepens in shade with age, becoming something 
like mahogany. Furniture is usually hawked about for sale, 
or ordered from the carpenters. They make almost as much 

» Mabaw., pp. 124, 212. = Mahaw., pp. 152, 231. 


use of their toes and feet as their hands, being in common 
with the Hindus almost quadrumanous, picking up things off 
the ground with their toes as often as with their hands. 

Instead of sand-paper for polishing wood they use the rough 
leaves of one of the Dilleniacea (2>. sarmentosa), which they 
name ** korasawel." 

Mirrors of glittering glass are described as .being carried in 
a procession (306b.c.)«^ Does this mean they knew the art 
of silvering glass ? Another puzzling statement is, " windows, 
with ornaments like jewels, which were as bright as eyes;*' 
festoons of beads like gems mean evidently glass beads.^ 

The invention of glass, as everybody knows, has been attri- 
buted to the Phoenicians. Mr. Smith, of the British Museum, 
says " The manufacture was known to the Assyrians." It is 
also one of the most ancient of Indian arts (Pliny, xxvi. 26). 
The Hindus have been long aware that this substance is a non- 
conductor of electricity, and placed lumps of it on the tops of 
their temples, as a protection against lightning. Admiral Fitz- 
roy, in his " Weather Book " (p. 441), suggests that its use in 
English light-houses, at a comparatively recent period, with a 
similar object, was derived from the East. " In Japan, China, 
Siam, Ceylon, and other Eastern countries, a system has pre- 
vailed from time immemorial of placing lumps of glass on 
the pinnacles, or other high points of buildings, to avert light- 
ning. Some British light-houses Jiad averters even in this 
century, doubtless suggested by captains of East-Indiamen." 
The " Mahawanso " (a.d. 241) gives an obscure description of 
a contrivance attached to the pinnacle of a building to avert 
lightning, but it is doubtful if the word " Vajira,*' rendered 
glass by Tumour, meant this substance or rather an adamant, 
a loadstone, or an iron magnet. It says, " Having placed a 
lai'ge gem on the top, he fixed below it, for the purpose of 
averting lightning, a Vajira chu7nbata,]ike a ring."^ Chiun- 
bata means to kiss, also a kisser of steel. 

1 Mahaw., pp. 103, 99. 
' Mahaw., pp. 103, 163. 

' V, 229; D'Alwis, Catalogue, p. 118; Tcnuunt, Ceylon, i. 509. (FUU 
ch. viii.) 


Iron, — Plates of iron and brass, four inches thick, and iron 
gates for a town, are mentioned b.c. 163 ; also iron ladders. 
The iron ore of Ceylon, which is of very, fine quality, is smelted 
in small quantities, after a very primitive fashion, in a clay fur- 
nace or hole in the earth, with charcoal ; a pair of bellows, made 
of bullock's hide, and having a wooden pipe, being used to blow 
the fire. When the iron is produced, it is converted into steel 
by enclosing a small portion, covered with wedges of green 
wood, in a clay cylinder, about one foot long and two inches 
diameter, the ends being closed with clay. It is then placed in 
a furnace for several hours. The cylinder when taken out is 
usually quite vitrified. The little pieces of steel thus produced 
are not much thicker than a man's finger, but of very fine 
quality. Edrisi, and other ancient Arabian writers, speak 
highly of Ceylon steel.^ 

This mode of making iron and steel is practised in India. 
Dr. Royle says, ** They use the wood of the Convolvulus lauri- 
folia, Cassia auriculata, and some leaves of the Alsophila gi- 
gantea, or tree-fern, to furnish carbon in making steel, luting 
the iron up in a clay cylinder, when the hydrogen gas from the 
wood and leaves combines with the iron, and makes steel in 
two hours and a half, less time than in England, where it takes 

The Bessemer process, invented since Dr. Royle wrote, has 
much facilitated and altered the manner of making steel in 

Medicine, — Sinhalese medicine is derived from the Hindus, 
which Dr. Royle says is more ancient than the Greek. Their 
medicinal preparations are chiefly compounds of herbs, of which 
an immense number are employed,^ and they are not un- 
acquainted with the use of minerals, particularly mercury, and 
boast of being able to prepare it better than Europeans, having 
a secret which renders it less injurious, but they often only mix 
it with fat. Marco Polo mentions that the Brahmins in his 
time had some secret way of preparing it, and they profess that 

* Vide chapter on Minerals. 

- Dr. Royle, "Arts and Manufactures of India," ed. 1851. 

^ Fide chapters on Botany. 


when taken in small doses monthly along with sulphur it renews 
youth. They believe that sulphur and mercury, mixed in 
various proportions, are the base of all metals.^ Mercury was 
used by Mesne, the Arabian physician, for the cure of skin- 
diseases, 800 years since. Pliny (xxxiii. 8) thought it was a 

The Homoeopathic system of medicine, a supposed modem 
invention of the Germans, has been known and acted upon 
from the earliest period, both in India and Ceylon. Vegetable 
and mineral poisons are frequently administered in small doses, 
such as nux- vomica, one of the passion-worts, Modecca pal- 
mata ; arsenic, in a white powder ; copper, gold and silver in 
powder. Pearls in powder are used as a tonic, and for weak 

Dr. Davy says, as they have a horror of dead bodies, and 
object to dissections, they know nothing of anatomy ; but prac- 
tise cupping and bleeding, and amputate with a knife heated to 
a dull red — a method formerly practised in Europe. 

Peacock flesh, among the Hindus, is considered a remedy for 
contraction of the joints. 

Bezoar stones, a smooth, glossy, dark-green concretion, found 
in the stomachs and gall-bladders of animals, commonly in 
monkeys, are in great repute all over India and Ceylon as an 
antidote to poison. 

A Sinhalese king (a.d. 339), named Budadaso, is repre- 
sented to have been a skilful doctor, practising on animals as 
well as man ; but the accounts are rather fabulous. Among the 
strange cures effected by him was that of a cobra, by an opera- 
tion on its intestines. He also fished up a snake from the 
stomach of a man who had swallowed the spawn in drinking 
water ; and cured a horse by bleeding, and a priest of ascarides 
by giving him some of the blood.^ 

A clay of a red colour, called arua, is mentioned, but it is 
not known what it was. 

A long list of Sinhalese medical works, mostly in Sanskrit 

* Col. Yule*8 Polo ; Ainslie, Mat. Med. of Hind. ; Royle, Antiqu. of Hindu 
^ Mahaw., p. "Hi. The snake was probably an Entozoon. 


and translations from it, is given in Ainslie, '' Mat. Med. of 

This brief sketch of native medicine applies more to that 
practised among them formerly than at present, as it is being 
modified by the adoption of European methods. Many of the 
Buddhist priests are also doctors. 

Astronomy was limited to the calculation of horoscopes, 
astrologers being found in every village. The Florence map 
speaks of a town inhabited by astrologers, situated on a lake in 
the centre of the island,^ which was of course imaginary. It is 
also alluded to by Di Conti. {Vide ch. xii.) 

Aryabhatta, a Hindu astrologer of the fifth century a.d., 
propounded the true cause of lunar and solar eclipses, and the 
diurnal revolution of the earth.^ 

The ** Suriya," one of the Siddhantas, supposed to have 
been written in the fifth or sixth century a.d., contains trigono- 
metrical theorems, only known in Europe in the sixteenth cen- 
tury ;* but the Hindus are backward in geometry, being chiefly 
practical in laying out rice-fields, and works of irrigation. 

Architecture. — An enormous quantity of architectural ruins 
are found in Ceylon, principally at Anuradhapura and the 
north-western province. Forbes speaks of ruined dagobas, 
pillars, and blocks of granite, at Mahagam, in the south, which 
have attracted little attention, and are not alluded to in the 
**Mahawanso." According to Ptolemy, Mahagam was the 
capital in his time (a.d. 139). 

As far as we can discern from the remains of these ancient 
buildings, they were more remarkable for size and extent than 
elegance of design, and the private dwellings of towns in the 
interior must have been wretched, if we are to judge from those 
of Kandy in 1815. 

The maritime towns have all been erected by foreigners — 
Tamils, Moors, Portuguese, or Dutch. 

Dagobas. — The most remarkable of the ancient buildings are 
the dagodas, a species of shrine, the name being derived from 

> Vol. ii. 625. ' Santarem, iil 336. 

* Colebroke's Essays. * Teiinent. 


"Datu,"^ a relic, and appear to have been built for the pur- 
pose of enclosing fragments of Buddha's bones. That these 
buildings are merely shrines, is shown by the interior of 
some of the ruined ones which have been examined, where, in 
a small hollow space in the centre, has been found enclosed an 
earthen or stone vessel, containing bits of bones, &c. In the 
dagoba opened near Colombo, by Mr. Layard, there were some 
fragments of bones, enclosed in thin gold leaf; a few pearls; 
and a clay cobra, \vTapped up in cotton cloth; also a brass 
lamp ; a small pyramid made of cement ; gold rings, and bits 
of glass, all similar to the things found in one opened at 
Benares.^ A stone casket was found in the interior of the 
Amravati tope, containing a pearl and a bit of gold leaf.' 

The discovery of a clay cobra in the dagoba at Colombo, 
which is said to have been built in honour of Sakya's conver- 
sion of the Ndga King of Kalany, is a curious proof of snake 

Dagobas have nearly all the same form, only varying in size, 
being solid hemispherical masses of masonry, standing on a 
raised square platform, approached by steps, and surmounted 
by a pinnacle. They are surrounded at some distance by a 
number of stone pillars, arranged in circular rows, some having 
four of them. Many surmises have been made as to the object 
or use of these pillars ; but are not the dagobas and the sur- 
rounding pillars symboHcal representations of Mount Meru, 
and the encircling ranges of mountains?* Their arrangement 
bear a remarkable resemblance to the circles of stone at Stone- 
henge, generally attributed to the Druids, although some sup- 
pose Stonehenge was a "Boodh temple.'*' The tumuli at 
Ashdon, in Essex, in which bones, bits of glass, and coins have 
been found, are also not unlike dagobas. 

Many of the Ceylon dagobas are of immense size,* three of 

> Wilson, Asiat. Res., xvii. 606. 

'^ Asiat. Res., v. 181. 

' Fergusson, p. 164 ; Turnour*8 "Epitome," p. 15. 

^ Vide Buddhist Cosmo., ch. L 

* Asiat. Res., ii. 488. 

* There are some discrepancies in the heights a-ssigned to these dagobas ; accorti- 
ing to native accounts in Tumour's Epitome, the highest of all was the Abhaya- 


them still remaining at Anuradhapora, being the largest known 
in any country. Abhayagiri dagoba, built by King Walagam- 
h&h\i, on his restoration to his throne (88 b.c.)> is said to be 244 
feet high in its present condition, having a radius of 180 feet 
at the base, and a spire 64 feet high ; while Jaytawana (erected 
A.D. 275,) is 249 feet including the spire and base, with a radius 
of 180 feet. The platforms on which they stand are about 
500 feet square, and from 5 to 9 feet high. Neither of these 
dagobas is considered to be a shrine, but a commemo- 
rative monument ; and when new, and coated with white 
chunam, must have presented a very grand and imposing ap- 

All these buildings are now in various stages of decay, 
most of them being covered with trees and shrubs, which have 
taken root in the crevices. Some are decaying more rapidly 
than others ; the Ruwanwella dagoba at Anuradhapiu'a, (built 
B.C. 157,) was 189 feet high in 1830, and only 140 feet in 
1846. According to the ** Mahawanso," it was originally 270 
feet high (p. 161). The best preserved of all are the Lanka- 
rama, which was repaired in the last century, and the Thupa- 
rama, built by King Tissa about 250 B.C., to enclose a collar- 
bone of Buddha, and is probably older than any building of the 
kind in India. This dagoba, which is bell-shaped, is only 60 
feet high, and was surrounded originally by 184 stone pillars, 

giri, being when new 180 cubits or 405 feet ; Lieut Skinner in 1830 made it only 
230 feet, and the Jaytawana 269, while according to native accounts it was 140 
cubits or 315 feet. The greatest height assigned in the " Mahawanso'* to any of them 
is 120 cnbits,and that only in describing the Ruwanwella or *' Mahathupa," pp. 9, 
161, from which it may be inferred it was the largest in the island, 120 cubits o^ 
2 feet 3 inches makes 270 feet. The "Mahawanso** does not give the dimensions 
of either the other two large ones, the heights given in Tumour s " Epitome *' from 
other native sources being less reliable. It is quite certain from the radius being 
only 180 feet, and the hemispherical shape, that none could have been much more 
than 270 feet including the basement and spire, the latter not being lofty. Sir £. 
Tennent says, i. 346, " assuming Abhayagiri to have been 405 feet high, that was 
50 feet higher than St. PauPs, and 50 lower than St. Peter's," but this is erroneous 
as far as St. Paul's is concerned, which is stated in Blaclde*s Gazetteer to be 404 
feet to the top of the cross, and in MacCuUagh 370 feet. A second account of 
Anuradhapura and its dagobas, with a plan and diagrams by Captain Chapman, 
R.A., will be found in J. R. A. S. xiii. ; also a drawing of the hill temple of 



26 feet high, more than a hundred of them still standing. The 
pillars are formed of two pieces of hewn stone, one forming an 
octagonal shaft, 23 feet 6 inches long, 9 feet of the lower part 
being square ; the other, a carved capital 2 feet 6 inches long. 
The Bankot dagoba differs from most of them, in having eight 
small shrines surrounding it instead of pillars. 

The dagobas are constructed of the same materials as Indian 
topes, the interior being made of mud and sun-dried clay, and 
covered with burnt or sun-dried bricks, afterwards coated with 
mortar and chunam. 

Some of them appear to have been enlarged at different 
periods. The dagoba at Bintenne, enclosing Buddha's thorax- 
bone, when first erected was only 12 cubits high, subsequently 
enclosed in another 30 cubits high, and again made 80 cubits 
high, 164 B.c.^ 

The " Mahawanso ** (ch. xxix.) describes the foundations of 
the dagobas as being first well trampled by elephants with 
leather boots on their feet ; then successive layers of brass and 
iron plates and stones were placed, on which the super-structure 
was raised.^ There is probably some mistake here with refer- 
ence to the iron and brass plates, their emplojnnent being very 

The erection of these religious monuments was accompanied 
by great ceremonies and influx of priests from all parts. 
** Mahawanso " tells us himdreds of thousands of priests from 
upper India attended the erection of the great tope (Mahathupa^) 
Buwanwelle (157 B.C.). The term " Mahathupa '' implies that 
this one was the largest in the island, which seems to have been 
overlooked by several writers. 

None of the Indian topes appear to be more than half the 
size of the largest in Ceylon, but the design and execution are 
finer, particularly that at Mamkyala. Dagobas are not un- 
known in the western world ; one has been found forty miles 
from Algiers, 166 feet in diameter, which is called the tomb of 
the Christian lady Kubr-Boumia ; and similar mounds exist in 

' Maha., p. i. * Maha., p. 169. 

' Maha., p. 171. * Maha., p. 165. 


Mexico. It is now said that America was discovered by Chinese 
Buddhists in the sixth century.^ 

Monasteries. — ^All that now remains of a building called the 
Brazen Palace in the ** Mahawanso," from its being covered 
with brass tiles, erected 161 B.C., are 1600 stone pillars, about 
12 feet high, arranged in parallel rows, and covering a square 
of 225 feet. At first sight it appears difficult to understand 
how it could have been a monastery, or any kind of habitation, 
as the pillars are only about six feet apart; but it is suggested 
they supported a wooden platform, on which the building — said 
to have been originally nine stories high — was erected, each 
story decreasing in size, a similar arrangement being adopted 
in modern Burmese monasteries, and in Hindu temples at 
Madura and other places.^ 

Priests' houses were originaUy, in compliance with the orders 
of Sakya, Uttle more than sheds, made of cajans or mud, but 
when they came to be patronised by kings, this stem simplicity 
was laid aside, and they were housed in buildings like the 
Brazen Monastery, containing 1000 rooms. It appears to have 
been several times destroyed and rebuilt, one of the last occa- 
sions being in the reign of Maha Sen (a.d. 275).*^ According 
to Tumour's " Epitome," except the pillars it was all made of 
wood, and 1 20 cubits high. 

The Brazen Monastery, or more properly the " Lowa-Maya- 
paya," was not the only monastery in the island, but all traces 
of the othei*s have disappeared. 

A very remarkable building at Polanarrua, called the Sat- 
Mahal-prasada, is, according to Mr. Fergusson, a perfect repre- 
sentation of the seven-storied temples of Assyria, " a lineal 
descendant of the Birs-Nimroud ; "* but it never could have 
been a residence, which is apparent on looking at it. It was 
probably erected in the twelfth century a.d. 

Colonel Yule suggests what is exceedingly probable, that the 

' VicU Leland's FuBang. 

' Fergumon, ** Handbook of Architecture", ed. 1865. Capt. Chapman, Trans., 
R. A. S. iii. 
' Maha., p. 235. 
* VoL i. 136 ; iU. 

K 2 


many storied monasteries of Ceylon and other Buddhist conn- 
tries, in which the flights decrease in size as they ascend, are 
symbolical representations of Mount Meru. According to the 
" Mahawanso " (p. 164), the sanctity of the inmates corres- 
ponded with the part they occupied in the building, the most 
holy living in the highest flight, and the least so in the lowest. 
The upper story being very much smaller than those below, 
showed how few there were among the community who could 
attain to this supreme and elevated sanctity. 

There is a very remarkable five-storied Buddhist monastery 
at Mahavellipore, south of Madras. 

Palaces. — There are only the remains of one ancient royal 
palace to be found, that at Polanarrua, which is a brick-built 
building of only one story, and not very remarkable for its 
architecture. The ''Mahawanso"^ describes either a palace 
or a monastery seven stories high, containing 4000 rooms, and 
hundreds of stone pillars in the same town, whose site appears 
to be indicated by some prostrate pillars near the Sat-Mahal- 

Among the ruins at Polanarrua is a great brick-built temple, 
Jata-wana-rama, constructed in the reign of Prakrama B&hu 
(1153), and the Dalada-Malegawa, or palace of the tooth, a 
square building built of cut stone ;^ also a curious circular 
edifice, about 20 feet high, approached on four sides by steps 
and gates with pillars on each side. 

The ruins at Polanarrua are comparatively modem, not having 
become the capital until 729 a.d., Anuradhapura being then 
deserted, on account of the incursions of the Malabars. Both 
cities have been for centuries overrun with jungle, but the 
buildings appear to have been spared by the invaders ; time and 
the luxuriant vegetation of the tropics alone injuring them. 
" Anuradhapura is the. only ancient Buddhist city that contains 
something like a complete series of former grandeur,* in seven 
topes, one monastery, a building surrounding the Bo-tree, and 
other ruins." In India, Buddhist monuments are few, and 
only to be found in isolated positions. 

' Ch. IxxiL ' Tumour's Epitome. 

' Fergumon, p. 506. 


Materials used in Architecture. — Sun-dried bricks appear to 
have been the chief material anciently employed. Burnt bricks 
were sparingly used, 'and stone was reserved for pillars, sculp- 
ture, and steps. Pillars were nearly all square or octagonal. 
Large stones were quarried by splitting. Wooden wedges were 
driven into holes, after which water was poured on them, when 
the swelling of the wedges burs£ the stone asunder. This 
system, known in Ceylon 2000 years ago, was only introduced 
into England in the beginning of this century.^ 

Some very large monoliths appear to have been conveyed 
several miles to their destination. There is a stone trough for 
elephants to drink from, ten feet long and five feet broad, 
hollowed out to a depth of two feet, at Anuradhapura ; and a 
flat dressed slab at Polanarrua, twenty-six feet long, four feet 
broad, and two feet deep, bearing an inscription* relating to 
the reign of Kirti-Nissanga (a.d. 1187). 

A material called " cloud-stone '* is several times mentioned 
in the Chronicles, and supposed to be a kind of fluor marble, 
like that of Tabriz, and must have been imported.^ 

The habit of mixing coco-nut water and the gum of the 
jEgle Marmelos with lime and cements to increase their adhe- 
sive quality is mentioned in the second century B.C. Knox 
says they mixed the water in which grain had been boiled, or 
milk, with lime. The practice of mixing some vegetable liquid 
with it has also prevailed in India from the earliest times. 

The arch appears to have been unknown, unless when em- 
ployed over doorways in more recent buildings. Their bridges 
were beams of wood laid on rude stone pillars. There was an 
ancient bridge twelve miles from Dambool made of blocks of 
granite, eight feet high, supporting horizontal slabs, seven feet 
long, four feet broad, and one foot thick.* 

Carvings of various animals are seen on the stone ruins of 
Anuradhapura and Polanarrua; also a bird resembling a goose, 
which is a common ornament on Buddhist buildings, this bird 
being a great favourite with these religionists. In one of the 
Buddha legends his hair is described as resembling the Kala- 

» Trans. R. A. S., iil 470 ; Davy, p. 73. ' Tumour, p. 90. 

» Upham. * J. A. S. Beng., 1847, p. 350. 


hanza. The goose is also depicted on the Burmese standard, 
and there are many anecdotes about the bird in the ** Rama- 

Another ornament found in the same places is the honey- 
suckle, a very ancient and widely diffused ornamentation in 
architectural carvings, being found among the Greeks, in 
Assyria, and in India, on buildings in the time of Asoka. 

There are no tall pillars, or " lats," in Ceylon like those of 
Delhi and Allahabad, or the curious pillar-like temple at 

* Fergnsson. 



Buddhism. — There is no doubt Buddhism is a very remark- 
able religious system, and one which counts more votaries at 
the present time than any other in the world.^ Although 
driven from the Peninsula many centuries ago, it still maintains 
its ground in Nepal and Thibet, is more or less vigorous in 
Ceylon, and dominates in Burmah, Siam, Cochin China, Japan, 
and throughout the greater part of the dense population of 
China, and is also found, in Tartary and Mongolia. Without 
possessing the persecuting and fanatical zeal of the Mahome- 
tans, Brahmins, and other sects, the Buddhists have shown 
themselves capable of a great deal of enthusiasm and self-im- 
posed hardships in furtherance of their cause. 

It would be beyond the scope of this work to give anything 
more than a mere sketch of Buddha and his religion, a subject 
which Max Miiller has declared to be almost beyond the power 
of a single individual to study comprehensively. It would be 
indeed an immense task to clear away the haze and romance 
thrown around this mysterious personage by his followers, 
which still shrouds the reality from our view, to ascertain what 
were the real doctrines preached by Sakya Muni, which the 
myth — which the truth. 

Buddhism was comparatively unknown until 1824, when 
Mr. Hodgson, Political Besident at Nepal, published his 
account taken from old MSS. which he found there.^ Since 
then, a crowd of savans, learned in Oriental languages, have 

' The Buddhist populations of the East have been estimated at 369,000,000. 
» J. R. A. 8., ii. p. 233. 


produced numerous works on the subject, which are annually 
increasing. Among the most important essays are Laidley's 
** Notes to Fa-Hian," Barthelemy Saint Hilaire's " Le 
Bouddha/* Paris, 1860, and Bumoufs **Histoire du Boudd- 
hism^," 1844, also his ''Lotus de la Bonne Loi," 1852. 
Much information will be obtained in Beal's " Notes to Fa- 
Hian," who recounts many fabulous legends of Buddha cur- 
rent in the fourth century a.d. 

Buddha presents the strange spectacle of a young and hand- 
some prince reared in the lap of luxury, whose career, we are 
U)ldf opened with all the glow and splendour of an Eastern 
morning, voluntarily abandoning his luxurious home with all its 
seductions — wife, parents, and friends — to become a wandering 
mendicant preacher ; to die an aged recluse at the foot of a 
Sal tree through a misguided and self-deluding enthusiasm and 
vain attempt to alleviate the miseries of mankind, of which he 
seems to have taken an exaggerated view. He wanted the 
light of " revelation," which can alone illumine the path 
of such seekers, and for which he sought in vain. 

Buddha appears, as far as we can judge, to have had by 
nature a disposition full of melancholy, an imagination that 
continually presented sad thoughts even in the midst of the 
pleasures of a young Indian prince, and threw the dark 
shadow of the future over the gayest illusions of the present ; 
from the moment that his vision was startled by the appear- 
ance of the aged man tottering to the grave, the sad image of 
decrepitude and death ran across and mingled itself with the 
most smiling scenes through which his position and career of 
enjoyment led him, heightened by a belief in transmigration, 
presenting an almost endless circle of similar existence in some 
form or other. Thus shut out by his creed from much hope 
of a blessed futurity — in vain did he pursue his accustomed 
amusements, their zest was gone for ever, and every moment 
seemed an hour, imtil he took some step to seek a release from 
such misery. 

Ten commandments of the highest order of morality are 
attributed to Buddha : ** Kill no living creature ; do not steal ; 
tell no lies ; do not commit adultery,'* &c. His precepts con- 


tain virtues and moral teachings unknown in any other heathen 
system of religion. Taken in one sense, he taught that there 
was nothing hut sorrow and vexation in the world, proceeding 
from the imbridled passions and vain desires of man, which 
should be ruthlessly rooted out from the human breast, felicity 
being only obtainable by practising virtue, and keeping the 
passions in subjection. His reputed doctrines are pithily 
summed up in a legendary correspondence^ with a young prin- 
cess of Ceylon, named Ratnavali, who, hearing of him from 
some Indian merchants who frequented the island, wrote to 
Buddha, to ijiquire how happiness was to be obtained, and 
received the laconic reply, — ** No vice to be committed, practise 
virtue, subdue your thoughts." Barthelemy Saint Hilaire says 
of Sakya; " Je n'hesite pas a ajouter que sauf le Christ tout 
seul, il n'est point parmi les fondateurs de religion de figure 
plus pur ni plus touchante que celle du Bouddha."^ 

Many of the metaphysical sophistries attributed to Sakya by 
his followers are beyond our comprehension ; but, as far as we 
can make out, deeply imbued with the dogma of metempsy- 
chosis : he regarded life as a curse, an intolerable builhen ; 
and, in his morbid imagination, fancied he had discovered a 
way of ending sentient existence in the Nirvana; that as 
human existence and its consequent miseries originated in the 
love of earthly pleasures, by freeing the soul from all these 
attachments it would at last die out (as it were) and be extin- 
guished at death for ever. 

This singular delusion is evidently a modification of the 
Brahminical dogma of the origin of the human soul — an ema- 
nation from Brahma, that has wandered from its original 
abode of purity and bliss to this world, where, immersed in the 
fatal pleasures of earth, it has lost its celestial nature and 
unable to return to its former home till purified by a long series 
of transmigrations, lengthened in proportion to its guilt. 

The Hindus from time immemorial have been addicted to 
religious suicide, in the hope of getting a step nearer to Brah- 
ma ; but this sort of suicide formed no part of Sakya's doc- 

* Csoma de KQrda Trans. Thibetan MS., J. A. S. Beng., 1834, p. 61. 
' Le Bouddha, pref., p. v. 


trine ; to destroy the body before it had been purified from the 
dross of earth, entailed another birth. His idea seems to have 
been annihilation at the natural death through the practice of 
virtue. Some have supposed Sakya did not believe man had a 
soul ; but this seems inconsistent with his inculcation of self- 
denial and purification. Unlike most teachers of Atheism, 
who centre all their wisdom in the full enjoyment of the pre- 
sent, Sakya rejected the pleasures of this life as unworthy of 
consideration ; yet his system resembles that of Epicurus, who, 
while he taught that pleasure is the only deity, also inculcated 
that virtue was the only pleasure. 

In a discourse ^ famous among Buddhists, delivered at 
Benares when he commenced his mission, which is considered 
by some to give a clearer idea of his real doctrine than any of 
his after ** Sutras," he propounded four truths as the essence 
of his system, which lead to " Nirvana." " There is nothing but 
misery, the passions are the cause ; destroy the passions and 
you destroy the misery — labour to accomplish it." These four 
points are named ** The Wheel of the Law," because they set the 
new doctrine in motion. This dogma bears some resemblance 
to the celebrated lines in Virgil, quoted by Dr. Mill* who 
remarks that what was a mere figure of speech in the Roman 
poet has become a religion in the East — 

" Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere caasas, 
Atque metils omues, et inexorabile fatum subjecit pedibus/* Qtor, ii. 490. 

Buddhism, notwithstanding its moral precepts, its mild and 
benevolent doctrines, has done little to elevate the condition of 
mankind or improve the morality of man ; its cold philosophy 
and metaphysical abstractions oiffer no help to man in the 
struggle .with his turbulent passions, or consolation in adver- 
sity, which a bright hope beyond our vale of tears and thorns 
can alone bestow. It has nothing better to oflfer in this world 

* "The Dhanna Cdkra Pravartanum siitra." The Jour. Adat. for 1870, p. 
846, contains an analysis by M. Feer of the northern and southern versions, i.e., 
India and Ceylon, of this discourse which differ materially. In a Thibetan yersion 
translated by ESros, Asiat. Res., xx., the four truths are said to be, "there is 
nothing but sorrow in life, it will be so with every birth, but it may be stopped, 
the way to end it." An essay on this subject will be found in Bumoufs Lotus, 

p. 519. 
' J. A. S. Beng., iv. 216, the Dr. omitted the reference. 


than a cheerless, self-denying cynicism — its heaven a hideous 
phantom ; all that is bright and loving on earth vanishing for 
ever in the dismal abyss of annihilation. 

Buddhists believe that from time to time since the creation 
of the world there have appeared Prophets or *' Bvddhas," a 
Sanskrit word, meaning wisdom, intellect enlightened, men of 
superior intelligence, acquired in passing through numerous 
transmigrations, each birth giving them an increased degree of 
merit, till, in their last birth as men, by perseverance in virtue 
and meditation they attain perfect knowledge, and proclaim it 
for the spiritual welfare and enlightenment of mankind ; at 
their death, instead of assuming a new form they are absorbed 
into ** Nirvana,*' Twenty-five Buddhas have thus appeared ; 
four during the last " kalpas'* — immensely long epochs, when at 
the end of -each the earth undergoes a revolution on its surface 
which changes the face of nature ; and of these there have been 
thirteen. As truth is eternal, the last Buddha only preached 
what his predecessors had taught, and one more " Matreya " is 
to appear before the end of all sublunary things. A Sinhalese 
work, called the ** Buddhawansa," translated by Tumour,^ gives 
a fabulous accoimt of the previous Buddhas, carrying one back 
to an incredibly remote period when the first appeared ; but 
there is nothing of the least interest connected with any of them. 

Several accounts of the life of Sakya have been written by 
his followers, such as the ** Lotus de la Bonne Loi,** part of the 
Buddhist canon, which has been translated by Burnouf, and 
the popular Thibetan " Lalita Vistara," supposed to have been 
composed about the Christian era, as there is a Chinese ver- 
sion of it dated 76 a.d. — it was published in Sanskrit at Cal- 
cutta in 1853, by Babu Bajendraldla Mittra. The ^* Lalita 
Vistara," whose author is imknown, appears to be the founda- 
tion of all the biographies of Buddha, but ends its account at 
the commencement of his mission in the city of Benares. 

Li accordance with the belief in metempsychosis, Buddha is. 
described as having, " after an infinite number of births," ob- 
tained " Bodhlsatto," an inferior species of sanctity in Tusita ; 
but one more birth being necessary for a perfect Buddha, after 

* J. A. S. Beng., 1838, v., vii. 789 ; Armour, Ceylon Almanack, 1835 — 6. 


appointing Matreya as his Yice-Begent, he became again incar- 
nate as the son of Suddhodhana, Prince of Kapila-Yasta, an 
unknown locality, probably near Oudh, receiving at his birth 
the name of Sinha Siddhdrta ; the terms Sakya, Muniy Gauta- 
ma, being surnames or family names. His mother, Maya, who 
was renowned for her beauty, was warned in a dream by a 
white elephant, of the great dignity that awaited her ; the high 
destiny of her son was also foretold as well as the occasions 
that would cause him to adopt the ascetic life. To keep these 
from his knowledge, his father caused three palaces to be 
built, within the limits of which the prince should pass the 
three seasons of the year, whilst guards were placed to bar the 
approach of the dreaded objects ; but these precautions were 
defeated by the power of the " Devas " and inevitable destiny. 
When the prince was sixteen, he was married to the beautiful 
daughter of the King of Koli, and 40,000 other princesses also 
became the inmates of his harem. Whilst living in the full 
enjoyment of every kind of pleasure, Siddh&rta, one day while 
driving in his chariot to which four white horses were yoked, 
perceived on the roadside a decrepit old man with grey 
hair and broken teeth, whose bending form and trembling 
limbs were supported by a staflF; the prince surprised, inquired 
what the strange figure was, and was informed it was an old 
man; he then asked if the man was bom so, and the charioteer 
answered that he was not, as he was once young like them- 
selves. " Are there many such beings in the world?*' " Your 
Highness, there are many." The prince again inquired, ** Shall 
I become thus old ? " and he was told it was a state to which 
all beings must arrive. The prince on his return home in- 
formed his father he intended to become an ascetic, seeing 
how undesirable is life tending to such decay. His father con- 
jured him to put away such thoughts, and to enjoy himself 
with his princesses ; and he strengthened the guards about the 
palace. Four months later a similar circumstance occurred, 
when the prince saw a leper ; and again four months after, a 
dead body in corruption ; lastly, he saw a religious recluse ra- 
diant with peace and tranquillity. Resolving to delay no longer, 
one night, after taking a longing look at his sleeping wife. 


Yas6dard, and the son just bom to him, he left his palace 
stealthily, mounted his swiftest steed, and through the conni- 
vance of a trusty servant passing the sentinels at the gates, was 
soon carried beyond the reach of his home and its temptatioiis, 
which might have caused him to falter in his determination. 
Reining in his exhausted steed, after galloping all night, Sakya 
induced a peasant he met on the road to change his humble 
garb for the courtly dress he wore, cut oS his flowing hair, and 
proceeded to a town, supposed to be the modem Gandara, near 
Patna, where he offered himself as a disciple of a Brahmin 
teacher, named Arata Kalama, into whose school the modest 
and handsome young prince was willingly received, his appear- 
ance captivating both the master and his numerous pupils.^ 

He soon discovered that they could not put him in the way 
of the happiness he was in search of, which he began to per- 
ceive was only to be obtained by poverty and restraint on the 
passions, and informing them so, he quitted the town and pro- 
ceeded to Magadha, where, as his reputation for wisdom ac- 
quired in the school of the Brahmin, and reports of his beauty 
had preceded him, he was received with enthusiasm by the 
populace,' and entered the town in triumph. The King, Bim- 
bes^a, perceiving the cortege from the windows of his palace, 
invited the young apostle to stay with him, and was much 
impressed with his doctrines ; after remaining a short time, 
fearing the seductions of the palace, he left Magadha and became 
the disciple of another Brahmin renowned for his wisdom, 
whom he also left dissatisfied, accompanied by five of the 
Brahmin's disciples, who followed him in preference to their 
old master, and retired along with theila to Uruwella, a lonely 
hamlet in the forest, where he spent six years practising the 
severest austerities ; but finding at the end of that time the 
object of his pursuit still unattained, and his frame exhausted by 
long abstinence, he partook of substantial food brought to him 
by a peasant girl, and was abandoned by his five disciples, who 
were scandalised at this weakness.^ Thus deserted and left to 

^ In some accounts he is represented as having sent back his horse and charioteer 
who went with him thus far. —Real's Fa-Hian^ p. 92. 
2 Asiat. Res., xx. 51, 801. 


himself, he fell into a long series of meditations and reveries, 
during which he imagined he at last discovered the great secret 
he was in search of, which conferred happiness, led to Nirvana, 
and the extinction of transmigratory misery. During one of 
these illusions which lasted a week, while reposing imder the 
famous tree at Boodh Gayd, he received the Buddhahood, or 
mission of enlightenment to mankind. After debating for 
some time whether he should disclose the knowledge he thus 
became possessed of, he proceeded to Benares and proclaimed 
his mission, or " set the wheel of the law in motion," as his 
followers metaphorically express it, being then thirty-six 
years old. 

After preaching his doctrines in various places for forty-six 
years (vide ch. vii.), Sakya died at eighty years of age under 
the Sal trees (DipterocarptLs), at Kusinaria, a doubtful localit}', 
supposed to be the modem Hurdwar or Kusia in Gorakpur, in 
the year b.c. 543, having been born, according to Sinhalese 
accounts, B.C. 624. The Chinese and Tartars say b.c. 1059. 
The Parinibhanan Sutra mentions that Ananda, one of his dis- 
ciples, related at the first ** convocation," that he heard Sak3'a 
died from eating pork at a repast to which he was invited by 
Chanda, a goldsmith, which he ate on purpose, knowing it 
would cause his death ; others say the pork was poisoned by 
M£ra out of spite — these statements are only found in the 
Ceylon and Siamese versions.^ 

Such is the story of Buddha as given by his followers, which 
obviously contains a great deal of the fiction and absurdity in- 
separable from all Oriental accounts of events. Doubts have 
been expressed whether such a person as Sakya ever existed. 
The Eev. Spence Hardy, in his ** Legends of the Buddhists,"* 
says, ** In the preceding pages I have spoken of Buddha as a 
real person. ... I have used the language of the Budd- 
hists, not that of my own conviction. I will not say that I 
think such a person as Sakya never existed ; but I aflSrm, we 
cannot know anything about him with certainty, and that it is 
impossible to separate the truth from the myth." Professor 

» J. A. S. Beng., 1838, vii. 1003 ; Idenij Col. Low, 1848—72. 
• 2 Page 138—187, ed. 1866. 


H. H. Wilson, in his " Essay on Buddhism," in the J.R. A. S., 
considers it probable that Sakya Muni was an unreal being, 
while Kapila Vastu, the state ruled by his father, has not yet been 
identified; ** neither has the age in which he lived been satis- 
factorily determined.** Max Miiller ^ has pointed out that the 
date (B.C. 543) given for the death of Sakya is doubtful, ** the 
more plausible time being B.C. 477," and it is not improbable 
that it occurred even 200 years later. The Ceylon datum upon 
which the Buddhists* calculation is founded, is not reliable, as 
it does not agree with the date of Chandragupta and Asoka's 
reigns, the keystone of Indian chronolog>\ The probable 
commencement of Asoka's reign was B.C. 263, and his inaugu- 
ration B.C. 259, which is stated in the ** Mahawanso ** to have 
been 218 years after Buddha*s death, which would make it 
B.C. 477. A very old man, named Pindola, is stated in a 
popular legend of India to have been a contemporary of both 
Sakya and Asoka, which, if true, would make the death of 
Buddha about the middle of the fourth century B.C. M. De 
Koros makes it B.C. 430, and Westergaard, of Copenhagen, 
between B.C. 368 and 370.^ There is also a discrepancy in the 
southern and northern MS., the latter making Asoka's reign 
one hundred years after Buddha's death. 

It is rather remarkable that the name of Buddha does not 
once occur in the Gimar or Lat inscriptions of Asoka, 
although his doctrines are supposed to be promulgated in 
them ; but it has been found in the Byrath inscription, also 
attributed to Asoka. Among the sculptures on the Sanchi 
Tope at Bilsah, Central India, there is an apparent represen- 
tation of the young Prince Siddhdrta taking one of the drives 
already mentioned, but there is no trace of the old man said to 
have been seen by him on the occasion.* Fa-Hian, at the end 
of the fourth century, mentions that he saw three towers 
which were built to commemorate the three drives of Buddha 
at Kapila- Vastu ; they were also noticed by Hwen-Thsang a 
few centuries later. 


» MUller, His. Sansk. Lit. 298. 

' Jour. Asiatique, 1863, p. 116. 

* Fergusson's account of Sanchi Tope, p. 134 ; J. A. S. Beng., vi. 567. 


" The particulars of Sakya's life are no doubt fabulous, and 
tend to shake our belief in the more probable statements about 
him ; however, we may on the whole regard Sakya as an his- 
torical character, induced by peculiarity of temperament or 
accidental circumstance to adopt a religious life. Arriving 
after a niunber of years spent in meditation at what he regarded 
as Vital Truth, when he assumed the character of an inspired 
teacher, and founded a community (Sangha) of religious men 
and women, who professed a belief in his law {Dharma)^ at 
first conveyed under the form of Four Truths * Arya satyani,* 
that sorrow is inseparable from sentient existence ; that evil 
desire is the cause of sorrow ; that there was a way of ending 
it, by following the means or path pointed out, that of virtue ; 
such being probably th^ doctrine as it came from the hands of 
its founder, involving four principles — man may become supe- 
rior to the gods (of the Brahmins). Nirvana is the supreme 
good — religion consists in the suppression of evil desire and 
practice of self-denial and benevolence — men of all castes and 
women may enjoy the benefits of religion." ^ 

The story of Buddha is so attractive, Gower and Boccaccio 
have founded some of their romances on it, and it has somehow 
come to be inserted in the " Roman Martyrology " (Nov. 27), 
under the name of St. Josaphat, " who along with St. Barlam, 
spread the faith among the Indians on the borders of Persia." 
Probably on the authority of a remarkable religious tale, attri- 
buted by some mistake to St. John Damascenus, who lived in 
the eighth century, it is called the " History of Barlam," a 
holy hermit, and Josaphat the son of an Indian king, whom he 
instructed in the faith and virtue ; " his father is said to have 
kept him in a palace, where during his youth he had never 
heard that men die." De Couto mentions the story of St. 
Josaphat and Buddha, (Decade v. vii. 16), and Max Miiller 
reproduced it in an article in the " Contemporary Review " for 
July, 1870.^ It also forms a work called the "Paradise," 
written in the tenth century by Metaphrastus. 

> Beal's •* Fa-Hian," pref. xlix. 

' "Le Marty rologc Romain marque au 27 Novembrla fSte Barlaam et de Josa- 
phat, comme de deux saints efToctifs, dont il assigue le culte chez les |jidien« 


There are few subjects on which there has been more con- 
troversy than Buddhism, or so many surmises as to its origin. 
It has been sought to identify Sakya with the " Tayal " of the 
Philippines, with the Thoth of the Egj^itians — Turm of the 
Etruscans — Mercury, Zoroaster, PjiJiagoras, Woden, Manes of 
the Manicheans, Daniel, &c. ; and he is stated to have been 
known to the Celtic Druids. Welsh and Irish, whose ** round 
towers " are attributed to his followers.^ Out of this long list 
of comparisons, which is the most absurd, Klaproth ridicules 
the idea of there being any identity between Woden and 
Buddha ; ** nothing," he thinks, " could be more dissimilar." 
What similarity could there be between the ferocious savage 
followers of Woden drinking coarse fermented liquors to ex- 
cess out of skulls and revelling in slaughter, and the ascetic 
water-drinking disciples of Sakya, to whom fermented drinks are 
an abomination, and who have never been accused of any fight- 
ing propensities ? Mr. Westergaard, who has recently written 
a work on this point, says, " the Icelandic language resembles 
the Sanskrit, and that ' Mdra,' the Buddhist devil, is known in 

Many writers think Sakya was a reformer of Brahminism. 
Klaproth,' a good authority, says, "Buddha appeared as a 
reformer of the dominant religion of India, rejecting the autho- 
rity of the * Vedas ' with their bloody sacrifices." Neverthe- 
less, it would be difficult to say positively that Brahminism is 
more ancient than Buddhism. The Rev. Mr. Gogerly,* on 
Ceylon authority, says Sakya only revived the doctrines of the 
previous Buddhas which had been forgotten. Colonel Sykes* 

Yoisins de la Perse. Au jugement de M. Huet et de beaucoap d'antres, cette his- 
toire n'est qu'un roman spirituel. L* Abb^ de Billey, Baronius, et d'autres savans, 
Font cependant reque et fait passer pour vraie. . . . L'ouyrage a ^U retoach6 
par qnelque Grec posterieur favorable aux Latins. Uoriginal est dans le Biblio- 
th^ue du Roi."— Bib. Sacr^, Paris, 1822, iii. 101. Butlers "Lives of the 
Saints;" Cave, p. 841 ; Beal's Fa-Hian, p. 86. 

» J. R. A. S., Higgins, L 158 ; Hardy, Bud., p. 827. 

' Article on Woden and Buddha, by RajendraUla Mittra, J. A. S. Beng., 
1858, p. 46 ; 1864, 569 ; Klaproth, M^m. sur I'lnde, ii. 93. 

' Mem. sur I'lnde, ii. 55. 

* Appendix to Lee's **Ribeyro." 

' J. R. A. S., vol. vi., xiii. 114. " The first aotnal writings, the first well authen- 
ticated inscriptions, are Buddhist." — Max Miillcr, Hist. Sansk. Lit, p. 520 ; Col. 



has also written in defence of the greater antiquity of Budd- 
hism which he sees everywhere, and Brahminism nowhere 
until a comparatively recent period. All the ancient cave 
temples and coins are Buddhist, all the ancient inscriptions 
are Pali and Buddhist, neither S^nskiit nor Brahmin, all 
the Indian princes in Fa-Hian's time were Buddhist ; even 
the great Brahmin festival of Jagannatha is of Buddhist origin, 
being described by Fa-Hian and subsequently adopted by the 
Brahmins ; and Buddhist emblems ai'e found on tlie temple of 
Jagannatha. M. De Maupied and Mountstewart Elphinstone 
are on the other side. It is also uncertain whether Buddhism 
took its rise in the East or West, although probabilities are in 
favour of the latter. Somnath in Guzerat was originally a 
Buddhist temple, and one of Sakya's teeth was deposited in a 
tope at Salsette. M. De Maupied was of opinion the Jews 
canded captive by Shalmanesar into Afghanistan were the ori- 
ginators of Buddhism, and a writer in the " Asiatic Researches " 
for 1807 tries to identify the Druids with the Brahmins. All 
we know for certain is, that a fierce struggle existed for many 
centuries on the Continent between the rival sects, which ended 
in the expulsion of Buddhism from the Indian Peninsula many 
centuiHies ago, the exact time not being known ; Colonel Sykes 
extends it to the eleventh centurj^ a.d. Mr. Fergusson, F.R.S., 
thinks Buddhism a raising up of the aboriginal casteless Hindus 
to a temporary supremacy over the aristocratic Aryans ; when 
Buddhism broke down it was replaced by the modern Brahmin 
worship of Seva and Vishnu, a religion of some of the original 

The corruptions and exclusiveness of the Brahmins probably 
gave rise to Buddhism, a revolt against the sacerdotal supre- 
macy of the Brahmins, an effort to admit all to the knowledge 
which they reserved to themselves ; Sakya*s doctrines, thrown 
open to all, were eagerly accepted by tlie lower classes excluded 

Low, J. A. S. Beiig., 1849; Maupied, ** Essai siir les Peuples Anciens," quoted 
by Sir E. Tennent ; Chinese MS. say, last three Buddhas taught the same doc- 
trine as Sakya. — Real's Fa-Hian, p. 66. **The doctrines ascribed to Buddha 
were popular in their character and well designed to secure the attention of all ; 
they were just what men like to listen to ; they were invited to take refuge in 
something that promised them protection." — Rev. S. Hardy, ''legends, "p. 202. 

BUDDniSM. 67 

by the aristocratic Brahmins, through their elaborate sj'stem 
of castes, from all participation in their privileges ; his firat 
disciples appear to have been outcast Chandalas. 

Beyond personal controversy with Sakya and threats against 
himself. Buddhism does not appear, as far as we can learn, to 
have been at first much opposed by the Brahmins, but was 
not, however, triumphant in India until the time of Asoka, 
who has been called its ** Constantine," the grandson of a 
** parvenu " (Chandragupta), who broke through castes when 
he was elevated to the throne of Northern India. Asoka is 
supposed to have adopted the Buddhists, who denounced 
castes as his natural allies,^ while, according to some, tlie 
revolution which placed Chandragupta on the throne was an 
attempt on the part of the Brahmins to subvert Buddhism, 
the national religion.^ 

Bumouf gives it as an indubitable proof of the priority 
of the Brahmins that the Buddhist " Sutras *' of Nepal use 
Brahmin terms in their definitions. Bhagavat, a common 
title applied to Sakya, occurs in the " Vedas " as a designation of 
the deity or supreme power. Little value can be attached to 
the statements of the Chinese and Ceylon Buddhists, that the 
previous Buddhas preached the same doctrines as the last ; 
there is no proof that some of Sakya's precepts were heard of 
in India until his time. De Koros says, among the Thibetans 
every doctrine is referred to Sakya, the last Buddha. Some 
suppose'^ Buddhism of Christian origin, and traceable to the 
Gnostics whose doctrines it resembles, and hence the monks, 
nuns, crosses, candles, mitres, and other Christian emblems 
and customs, including confession and expiation, found among* 
the Buddhists of Nepal and Thibet. There is reason to 
suppose that Christianity, which spread to Persia in the first 
century, reached Northern India at the same period ; there 
were Christians in India a.d. 51.^ The early date ascribed 

* ** Buddhism had no history before the time of Asoka." — Max MUller, ** Chips 
from a German Workshop. " 

- J. R. A. S., 1864. Vide ch. vii., ix. 

* J. A. S. Beng., 1854, ** Legends of the Punjab." 

* C. de Kiiriis, the Dul-Va., J. A. S. Beng., 1832. 

* J. K. A. S., 1834, p. 173. 

F 2 


to Buddhism is doubted, not being mentioned by Megasthenes 
or in the account of the invasion of India by Antiochus (b.c. 
103), being first positively described as an Indian religion by 
Fa-Hian (a.d. 400). The inscriptions attributed to Asoka 
are an obstacle to this view ; but as the names of Indian Rajas 
are often repeated, this Asoka may have been some other 
besides Chandragupta's grandson. The Christian emblems 
found among the Thibetans are attributed by some to the 
missionaries, who visited Central Asia in the fourteenth cen- 
tury,^ and to a remarkable religious movement which occurred 
among them about that time, owing to a kind of Luther, or 
reformer, who established his sway there, and became the 
** Grand Lama of Thibet," the first of the order. The shaven 
heads and yellow robes of Uie south are more truly Buddhist 
than the red robes, hats, and mitres of Thibet. Among the 
religious devices of the Buddhists is one that is certainly not 
Christian ; " the praying wheels," as they are called— circular 
machines, to which prayers are pasted and then turned by the 
hand, thus saving the trouble of repeating them — the faster 
tfhey are turned the sooner the prayers are got over, and 
flome are worked by water, a still further saving of time and 

The resemblance between Buddhism and Christianity is in 
many respects very startling, especially in the charity and 
control of the passions they both inculcate ; but Buddhism 
is more akin to the vagaries of the Gnostics, especially to 
Manicheism, than genuine Christianity, and it yet remains 
to be proved whether Buddhism is derived from the Gnostics 
or their ideas from Buddhism. The Eev. S. Beal points out 
the singular coincidence "that Christianity was spreading 
westward (to Italy, Gaul, and Spain) about the same time 
that Buddhism was extending eastward into China." ^ 

We are far from knowing with any degree of certainty what 
were the real doctrines of Sakya ; that they were attractive 
and novel may be infeiTed from the accounts given us of the 
number of enthusiastic disciples who followed him, whose 
only object was to imitate the stern simplicity of his life. All 

* J. R. A. S., vol. iv., new series. * Catena of Bud. Scrip., 1871. 


the accounts of Buddha given by his followers are related in 
such a truly Oriental strain, so abound with fabulous legends, 
we cannot get at the truth from them. Turning to the ** Bock 
and Lat " inscriptions of Asoka, the oldest exemplars of sup- 
posed Buddhist doctrines to be found, we are not much more 
enlightened. They inculcate respect to parents, charity to 
neighbours, and humanity to animals, forbidding the taking of 
life, recommend keeping the body temperate and the tongue 
from evil speaking. The Gimar edict speaks of the happi- 
ness of virtue, " Dharma mangalam," and alludes to the four 
rules of virtue, but does not define them ; and the eleventh 
edict expresses a hope of reward in another world for good 
actions in this,^ which is all the information to be obtained 
from this source. Prinsep thought "Buddhist doctrine ori- 
ginally was only a reform of the worst features of Brahminism, 
a dissent from the greater part of their metaphysics and 
sophistry without an absolute relinquishment of a belief in 
their gods ; the term * Devanampiya ' applied to Asoka shows 
the retention of the Hindu pantheon at that time." Some 
say the Gimar edicts do not represent real Buddhism, and it 
remains to be shown that they are identical with the doctrines 
of Sakya. There is nothing contrary to Buddhism in them or 
in those of the ** Lats,'* but they omit all mention of its lead- 
ing tenets ;^ the nearest approach to them is found in the 
Byrath inscription, which names the Buddhist triad, " Buddha, 
Dharma, and Sangha,"^ also monks and nuns. Tenderness 
to life, and the other virtues named in the edicts, were incul- 
cated by the Brahmins, and some are Jewish. Dr. Bird 
thinks Buddhism resembles the old form of Sabean idolatry, 
there being a strange association of Buddhist invocation with 
honour to the sim in the sculptures and cave inscriptions of 
western India.* 

Supposing Sakya to have existed at the time stated accord- 

> J. A. S. Beng., vL 596, 957, vii. 226 ; Buniouf, "Lotus," app. x. p. 731 ; 
Max Miiller considers the Dhammapada to give a good idea of Sakya's doctrines. 

' J. A. S. Beng., 1852, p. 615. 

' The Buddhist Triad is a term applied to three words in use among the Budd- 
hists, Dharma means the law or virtue, and Sangha the congregation or church 

* Bombay branch R. A. S. J., 1844 ; J. R. A. S., xii. 


ing to the earliest calculations none of bis precepts were com- 
mitted to writing until B.C. 250, or nearly 300 years after 
his death, leaving ample time for the invention of absurd 
legends, and the writings now extant are evidently only com- 
pilations from previous documents. " The idea of a faithful 
translation is foreign to oriental minds, granted that Mahindo 
translated the original Pali into Sinhalese, there was nothing 
to restrain him from inserting anything he thought useful to 
his new converts ; so also Buddhagbosa, his statements are 
worth no more than Geoffrey of Monmouth's account of Prince 
Arthur.'* ^ How can we reconcile the statement that Buddha 
died from eating pork given him by the smith Chunda, with the 
prohibition not to take the life of any animal ? The killing 
and eating of animals is forbidden in the laws of Menu,^ and 
the abstaining from flesh and the drinking of ferments existed 
among the Brahmins. Dr. Hunter, in his " Orissa " (i. 134), 
says, according to Chaitanya, the apostle of Vishnu worship, 
tlie destruction of the least of God's creatures is a sin, and 
that self-immolation is also opposed to this worship. Colonel 
Sykes says, abstaining from the flesh of animals formed no 
part of original Buddhism. May not Sakya have been a re- 
former in this as in other matters? and have not his followers 
reverted to the old ideas ; however, the use of animal food is 
said not to be absolutely forbidden among them, although 
with an obvious inconsistency they strain the water they drink 
for fear of killing any stray animalcules in it. In fact the 
prohibition to take life, however it came to be a tenet of 
Buddhism, has always been evaded when it was found con- 
venient to do so, none but the extreme devotees among them 
living on vegetable food ; again, so many drinking scenes, 
where men and women are mixed together, are delineated 
among the sculptures on the Buddhist tope of Amravati, sup- 
posed to be of the fourth century a.d., that it makes one doubt 
any prohibition against the use of fennents existed at that 
time, and it is an argument in favour of the Woden theor}'.^ 
Many attempts have been made to detect Buddhism in the 

* Max Muller, Ili«t Stmsk. Lit., i. 298. ' Laws of Menu, v. 51. 

» J. Ferguason, F.R.S. 

BUDDniSM. 71 

accounts of Megastlienes, and other ancient Greek writers on 
India, but their nleagre and obscure statements apply rather to 
the Brahmins. The Gynmosophists, Sarmanas, or Brachmani 
of Megasthenes, "naked ascetics living in woods, subsisting on 
roots, and burning themselves on a pyre when old," — were pro- 
totypes of tlie modern Jogis or Fakers among the Hindus, 
and existed before Buddha, being mentioned by himself; in fact, 
he partly followed their example for six^'ears in the forest of 
Uruwella. The asceticism and self-purification of Sakya was 
probably derived from the Hindu system of Pantajali, the 
doctrines of the Pantajali, Sutra being supposed anterior to 
Buddha, and his first teacher, Arata Kalama, a follower of 
that system.^ But the self-murder and nakedness of the 
Gynmosophists formed no part of Buddhism. Strabo (Ixv. 
686) mentions that a Gymnosophist burnt himself alive at 
Athens in the time of Augustus. He had been sent as a 
present to the Emperor by a Pandyan prince. Arrian speaks 
of sophists of any cast — query, did he mean Buddhists ? 

Clemens Alexandrinus says, there are in India SarmanaB or 
Brachmanes, and Sarmanis, called AUobii, who do not marry, 
live on acorns, drink water with their hands, and dress in 
bark ; also those who follow Buttae, who first taught virtue. 
In another place, on the authority of Polyhistor, he speaks of 
Brahmins who neither drink wine nor eat meat, and believing 
in a second birth despise death (just as modem Hindus sufier 
and die to ensure a happy birth next time). St. Clement 
also alludes to holy women, probably the Bhikshunis, or Bud- 
dhist nuns ; also a name given to a male follower of Sakya. 
These statements are not to be found in any other ancient 
writer, some suppose them to have been originally derived 
from passages in Megasthenes (not extant), uimoticed by 
Plutarch, Strabo, and other authors. The passage about 
Buttse is very obscurely worded, and may have been written 
from information obtained from Indian residents at Alex- 
andria. Bardesanes, who lived in the second century a.d., 

* Couirilla \ ijaseuha, J. R. A. S., 1870, vol. v. ; Colebroke, Philos. of tho 
Hindus, Asia. Jour., 1839 ; St Clement Strom., L cap. xv. ; Surmaua; may be 
from Sramanas, Buddhist novices. 


appears to describe Buddhist priests, '*men who shaved their 
heads, put on robes and left their wives, living in houses 
founded by kings (monasteries), who gave them a daily allow- 
ance of food," a custom mentioned in the ** Mahawanso/' Pal- 
ladius describes people supposed to be Brahmins, but his 
account seems to refer rather to Buddhists. In Damascius's 
life of Isidorus, preserved by Photius, there is an account of 
some Brahmins who visited Alexandria, and lodged with Consul 
Severus (a.d. 470) ; " they ate palms and rice and drank water, 
and by their prayers could bring down rain." 

The name of Buddha occurs in Christian controversial 
writings of the thii'd and fourth centuries. One was associated 
with Manes, the Heresiarch. Neander, in his " Church His- 
tory" (i. 817), says the Manichees believed Buddha and 
Christ were the same. The name also occurs in Archelaus's 
account of his dispute with Manes (a.d. 275), in the " Cata- 
cheses '* of Cyril of Jerusalem (a.d. 361), and in the ** Heresies " 
of Epiphanius (a.d. 875). They all trace the Manichean 
doctrine to one Scythanus, bom in Palestine, and familiar with 
the Greek language and literature, a contemporary of the 
Apostles, and a merchant in the Indian trade. In the course 
of his business he several times visited that country, and made 
himself acquainted with Indian philosophy, subsequently 
marrying an Egyptian slave. He settled at Alexandria, and 
wrote four books, the foundation of the Manichean heresies. 
Hearing of the Jewish scriptures he started for Jerusalem, and 
disputed with the Apostles, where he died. At his death, one 
Terebinthus, a companion of his, seized his books and wealth, 
and proceeding to Babylon took the name of Buddsea, giving out 
that he was bom of a virgin, and learned in Egj'ptian mysteries. 

St. Hieronymus (a.d. 420) mentions a Buddha; and a 
third Buddha, Perioductes, lived in Persia (a.d. 570). A virgin 
mother of Sakya is unknown to the Buddhist of Ceylon or 
India, but the idea has been adopted by the Chinese and 
Tartars.^ However, the Buddhists of India in their legends 
have exalted Maya, his mother, far above all other women. It 

* Priaulx, J. A. S., xix. 277, 289 ; Epiphan. ii. 66 ; Hierony. Part I. cli. xxvi. ; 
Gildemeister, "Scrip. Arab.," p. 104. 


is rather singular that Buddhism has not been mentioned by 
Cosmas, but Marco Polo relates the story of Sakya's adoption 
of an ascetic life, saying '^ if he had been a Christian he would 
have been a great saint of our Lord, so good and pure was the 
life he led." 

Nirvana. — Another subject of controversy is the meaning of 
"Nirvana," a compound Sanskrit word, derived from **ra," 
a breath of wind, with the preposition " nir,'' which signifies 

By many Buddha*s teachings are thought to be nothing 
but a thinly disguised Atheism, in the attempt to provide 
an escape for the human soul from the miseries of this 
life, and transmigration from one body to another after death ; 
not by denying transmigration altogether, but by pointing out 
the possibility of arriving at an end of it through the practice 
of virtue, seK-denial, and contemplation in ** Nirvana." 
Brahminism and Buddhism both inculcate Metempsychosis, 
but while the result of successive births is to bring the soul of 
the Hindu nearer and nearer to the final beatitude of absorp- 
tion in Brahma, Buddhism leads to extinction. 

Nirvana is too metaphysical a subject to be ever satisfactorily 
determined. Eajendraldla Mittra, in a note to his edition of 
** Lalita Vistara," says this is a vast subject in Hindu ortho- 
doxy. Even the orthodox Buddhists are divided into four 
sects, according to their meaning of the term. It may mean 
abode of bliss, or exemption from transmigration; positive 
nihility, or equivalent to eternal matter. But after all, he says 
he finds himseK, in trying to explain it, in the same predica- 
ment as Cicero, when he said ** Although I have translated the 
* TimaBUS ' of Plato, I do not understand it" (p. 26). 

M. Pauthier says, ** It is hard to believe that for more than 
two thousand years so many millions of human beings have 
been practising with so much zeal a religion which offered no 
other consolation for all their seK-denial, than annihilation."^ 

' ** Nous ne pouvons croire que depuis pres de 2500 ans plnsieurs centaines de 
millions d'dtre.s humains pratiquent avec tant d'ardcur et de z^le une religion 
((ui ne leur offrirait pour toute consolation apr^ leur mort que le n^t 1 '* — 
Pauthier's Polo, p. 595. 


The burdens of tliis life and dread of transmigration can hardly 
have been so insupportable as to render the only alternative 
offered more desirable, and it will be seen presently that the 
idea is too repulsive for ordinary human nature, as an escape 
from it has been devised in China and Thibet ; but in reality, 
" Nirvana," whatever it means, is only obtainable by a chosen 
few, such as the Arhats or Ascetics, who separate themselves 
from the rest of the world to live in meditation, an inferior and 
temporary kind of happiness, entailing further transmigrations, 
being offered to more worldly persons. 

Colebroke, in his essay on the " Philosophy of the Hindus,"^ 
maintains that Nirvana does not mean annihilation, but a state 
of dreamy listlessness ; and others are of his opinion, but the 
majority look upon it as a cessation of all existence. Among 
these are two of the latest writers on the subject — Bishop 
Bigandet, vicar apostolic of Ava and Pegu,^ who is most 
decided on this point, and D'Alwis, of Ceylon, who says the 
result of his studies is '* that Gautama Buddha was an atheist, 
in the sense of one denying an absolute eternal supreme being, 
and that he not only denied to man a soul, but placed him, as 
regards a future existence, on a level with the brutes that 
perish, but also held the total extinction of being the summum 
bonum of existence.**' Barthelemy Saint Hilaire, and Remu- 
sat, can find no trace of an idea of God among the Buddhist 
works they have searched, either in India or China. 

Max Miiller, in his essay on " Buddhist Pilgrims," came to 
the same conclusion, but has recently changed his opinion, and 
now thinks ** Nirvana** should not be interpreted quite in an 
atlieistical sense. He quotes some Buddhist works where it is 
said Sakya was seen by his followers after obtaining Nirvana, 
and verse 126 in the ** Dhammapada ** (or Path of Virtue) which 
says **some are born again; evil-doers go to hell, righteous 
people to heaven ; those who ai-e free from all worldly desires 
enter Nirvana.*** On the contrary Mr. Childers, in an article 

» Phil, of Hindus, p. 221. 

• Quoted by Max MUllcr, Parab. of Buddbaghosa. 

3 D'Alwis, "The Buddhist Nirvana," Colombo, 1871, p. 1. 

* I'arub. of Buddbaghosa. 


on the " Dliammapada," quotes some verses in it which are 
quite atheistical : "I have run through the revolution of 
countless bii'ths, seeking the architect of this dwelling, and 
finding him not, giievous is repeated bii'th " (v. 153). " As 
hunger is worse than any disease, so existence is worse than 
any pain ; to him who has realized this truth, extinction is the 
greatest bliss" (v. 203). Commenting on this, he says Nir- 
vana appears to be two-fold, and has a double meaning ; one, 
the extinction of human passion, ** Upadhicesha-Nirvana," and 
the other ** Anupadhicesha-Nirvana," or ** Skandhapar-Nir- 
vana," tlie annihilation of being. The Ai'hat, or being who has 
attained final sanctification, though fi'ee from human passion, 
is still a man, but he alone among men when he dies ceases to 
exist ; the oil in the lamp is burnt out, and he enters the vast 
portals of nothingness and void."^ Colonel Sykes denies there 
is any atheism in early Buddhism, not being found in the in- 
scriptions, or in Fa-Hian, which is true ; but are the inscrip- 
tions Sakya's genuine doctrines?^ 

The most atheistical part of the Buddhist doctrines is the 
almost total absence of any allusion to a Supreme Being, and 
the all-sufficiency of man's own exertions to attain its aim of 
happiness, Buddhism exalting the individual man into an abso- 
lute supremacy over all existing things. Strangely inconsistent 
with this want of belief in a Supreme Being, is an evident 
graft from Brahminism — the constant mention of an evil 
spirit Mara, or devil, a word which means literally " to 
kill ; " and they have several hells for the punishment of 
the wicked, but whether eternal or not does not seem clear, also 
several heavens of difierent degrees, serving apparently as the 
temporary residence of holy men, who have yet to go tlirough 
furtlier births and transmigrations before they attain "Nir- 
vana." The chief heaven is called ** Tusita," literally the 
abode of joy, the highest mansion in the world, where SaKya 
resided before he came on earth the last time. 

Three degrees of mental or moral capacity, according to the 
Thibetan books, are required for the reception of their doc- 

^ J. U. A. S., vol. V. p. 219, new series. 
- Csuma Koros, Asia. Kes., cIl xx. 


trines. ** Men of vulgar capacity must believe there is a God, 
and future life where they will be rewarded, while those of 
superior intellect must know that all things perish, that there 
is no reality, and that deliverance from pain or bodily existence is 
final beatitude/' which is similar to the Gnostic doctrine, "that 
faith, the foundation of Christian knowledge, was fitted only for 
the rude mass, the animal man, who was incapable of higher 
things ; far above these were the privileged natures, the men of 
intellect, the spiritual man, whose vocation was not to believe 
but to know,"^ who maybe considered equivalent to the Arhats 
of Buddhism. 

Although the atheistical meaning attached to Nirvana is said 
to prevail among the Buddhists of Ceylon, there appears to be 
two schools of Buddhism in China and Thibet — ^the philo- 
sophical and religious ; the latter rejecting a theory which 
leaves no hope beyond the narrow horizon of this life, and 
following the natural yearning of the human heart after another 
and happier world, and a belief in some power greater than 
himself — believes in a Supreme and merciful being called 
Adi Buddha in Nepal, and Kwan-yin, or Amita Buddha, the 
Sanskrit Avalokitesvara, in China and Thibet. Kwan-yin is 
also called among the Chinese ** the Great Manes," and is a 
worship allied to that of Vishnu, Kwan-yin being regarded as 
a Saviour of men.* The Rev. S. Beal says the ''Amitabha 
Sutra " contains an account of a Chinese Western Paradise, an 
idea which appears to have originated in the first century 
.A.D., through intercourse between Southern Buddhists, and 
foreigners from Alexandria, and taken to China a.d. 526. 
Hwen-Thsang speaks of a peak in South- Western India, called 
Po-ta-la-ka (supposed to mean Pedro-talla-galla, in Ceylon), the 
residence of Amitabha Buddha, or Kwan-yin, where he occa- 
sionally reveals liimseK. This paradise is the desire of the 
fjreat body of Buddhists in China and Japan." * 

^ Dean Maunsel on Gnosticism. 

' '* A belief in a Supreme Being is a graft on the unqualified atheism of Sakya, 
the doctrine of Adi fiuddha is local in Nepal." — Prof. Wilson, J. A. S., voL vi. ; 
according to Col. Sykes, Nepal fiuddhism is only a corrupt species of Brah- 

^ J. K. A. S., iL p. 425, new series ; Wa&silgew. der Buddhismos, p. 120. 


Buddhism has not escape^ schism and division into sects. 
The cloven hoof showed itself only seven days after Sakya's 
death, when his disciples met to celebrate his obsequies, signs 
of discontent with the monastic restraint they had been sub- 
jected to breaking out amongst them ; Subhadda, an old man, 
saying, " We are well rid of that arch-priest (Buddha), and the 
constant dread of his admonitions * Don't do this,* and ' Don't 
do that ; * now we can do what we like." Maha Kasypa, who 
was made his successor or chief disciple on this occasion, 
apprehending the result of such language,^ decided to call a 
convocation of all Sakya's followers, to collect his sayings and 
form a code of doctrine, which met two months after. {Vide 
ante, ch. xxii.) 

De Koros in the " Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal," 
1838, gives a description of the four principal systems of 
Buddhism now in existence, the first of which originated with 
Bahula, Sakya's son or grandson. They are all distinguished 
by the different number of pieces of cloth in their yellow robes. 
Seventeen heresies are mentioned in the "Mahawanso" as 
having occurred in the second century after Buddha's death. 
At the present time his religion only survives in the Indian 
peninsula, in the doctidnes of the Jainas^ of Guzerat and Raj- 
pootana, which are widely different from those of the Lama of 
Thibet, or the metaphysical monks of Nepal, varied again by 
the pantheism and demonology of China and Japan, while in 
Ceylon it is largely infected with Brahminism and demonolog}'. 
Even in Fa-Hian's time Buddhism in India had arrived at a 
stage of development that foreshadowed its approaching decline. 
It had returned, after flourishing for 800 years, to the pantheis- 
tic worship, in opposition to which it had originated. For in- 
stance, the processional car described by Fa-Hian, the pro-type 
of the modem Jagennatha. 

" The Sautrantika school generally followed in Ceylon, 
whose text-book is the * Agama,* is root and branch opposed to 
the Vaisbashikas of Northern India, whose text-book is the 

' Mahaw., p. 11. 

' An account of the Jainas by Colebroke will be found in the Asia. Jour., 1827, 
p. 558 ; they are all of one caste ; also by Dr. Bird, Bombay J. A. S. 


* Vaisbasha.' " {Vide Beal's "Fa-Hian," where an account of 
the diflferent schools of Modern Buddhism will be found. 

Buddhism has been called a religion without a God, and has, 
strictly speaking, no worship, sacraments, or liturgy; only 
meditation, preaching, and reading Sakya's Sutras, with 
honours paid to his statues and relics, such as offerings of 
flowers, fruits, lamps, or incense to them, either on altars of 
temples, or in dagobas. Images of Buddha are an obvious 
innovation on his doctrines, and first mentioned in Ceylon at 
Mihintala, a.d. 246; they are not regarded with idolatrous 
veneration, but as memorials ; neither is Buddha himself wor- 
shipped, being only held up as an ideal model of what every 
Buddhist may become by following his example. In fact, any 
worship of him would be inconsistent with a belief in his 
having ceased to exist in any form, although some of his more 
ignorant followers may do so, especially where Buddhism has 
degenerated into Pantheism. " Buddhist ceremonies in Ceylon 
at present are more secular than religious, as the great Pera- 
hera festival held at Kandy.'*^ 

Brahminism. — As this system is constantly alluded to in 
these pages, it is desii'able to give an idea if possible of what it 
is. Brahminism is the most subtle, complex, and debasing 
system of religion ever put forth. Protean-like it assumes a 
thousand shapes. Any accurate definition of it is almost im- 
possible. Hindu theology is, in fact, an elaborate Pantheism, 
which, some suppose, took its rise in the adoration of the 
powers of nature, especially of the sun, moon, and stars, and a 
sole eternal creator of all. ** Brahma,*' represented with four 
faces, aftei'wards developed into a triune divinity, composed of 
a creating power, Brahma ; a preserving power, Vishnu ; and 
a destroying power, Seva. Strangely enough, there are no 
temples erected to Brahma, who is assigned an inferior position 
by the masses. From Vishnu and Seva have proceeded end- 
less incarnations or manifestations, all worshipped as Gods, 
who assume each other's parts in the most perplexing manner. 
Some of the Hindus place themselves under the patronage, or 
devote themselves to the especial adoration of Seva, others 

» Tennent. VitU *' Asia. Jour.,** 1818, vi. 19. 


that of Vishnu, and are distinguished from each other by 
marks on their foreheads, while the Brahmins are the priests 
of the whole system. 

The worshippers of Vishnu are distinguished by having a 
sort of trident marked on their foreheads, with sandal or cow- 
dung ashes. Those of Seva have a few horizontal stripes or 
one round spot in the middle. Brahminism is probably much 
more modem than is generally supposed. There is no refer- 
ence in the " Vedas" to Durga, Seva, or Vishnu, the popular 
gods of the present time. These most ancient of Hindu poems 
are invocations to the powers of nature — the ** Maruts," or 
storm gods ; '* Agni," the morning dawn, or the sun, celestial 
light, etc. This simple adoration of all that is sublime and 
beautiful in nature being subsequently developed by the Brah- 
mins into the corrupt system which bears their name. 

Buddha^s relics. — It appears that at Sakya's death and ob- 
sequies some teeth, bones, and hair were carried away as relics 
by his disciples. Of the four eye-teeth one, it is said, passed 
to the heaven of Indra, the second to the capital of Gandara, 
the third to the king of Kalinga, and the fourth to the Nd,ga 
kings. The Gandara tooth was carried off by Sassanid in- 
vaders, and may be the one which Chinese annals say was 
taken to China in a.d. 530 by a Persian embassy to the 
Celestial Empire and is now shown at Fuchu, where it was 
seen by Fortune during his travels in China. ^ 

As time went on numbers of other bones of Buddha turned 
up in various miraculous ways, and all the Buddhist princes 
struggled with each other to obtain some of these relics,^ 
an enormous number of shrines and monuments being erected 
to his honour in various countries, among them Dagobas, in 
Ceylon, one containing a collar-bone. Fa Hian speaks of a 
tooth at Balistan, in the Himalaya. 

The only relic of which there is any connected narrative'^ is 

* Fortuiie'a China, ii. 108 ; Koeppcn, i. 621, quoted by Col. Yiilo, *' Marco 
Polo," ii. 26(3 ; Hwen-Thsang mentions other teeth which he saw in his travels. 

2 D'Ahvis, ** Life of Buddha," Colombo, 1862. 

' Mahanamo's account in tlie ** Mahawanso" is taken from a work now extant, 
called the ** Dalada-wanso,' written in Elu, from which Mr.gTumour also took hi» 


the famous tooth of Ceylon. The " Mahawanso " says, after 
the funeral rites of Buddha had been performed at Kusinaria 
(B.C. 648) one of his disciples carried his left canine tooth to 
Dantapura, in Kalinga, the modem Puri or Jagannatha; here 
it is said to have been preserved for nearly 800 years. Early 
in the reign of Guhasiwo, raja of Kalinga, the Brahmins 
instigated a war against him, accusing him of worshipping a 
bit of bone, when it was captured by them and carried off to 
Palibothra, where they tried to destroy it, but its miraculous 
resistance to all their endeavours converted the king, who in a 
fit of piety sent it back to Kalinga. 

In the ninth year of the reign of the same Guhasiwo the 
nephew of Kheradharo, a Brahmin raja, tried to get posses- 
sion of it by declaring war against him ; when the Raja 
directed that in the event of a defeat, as the result of the 
conflict seemed doubtful, the relic should be conveyed to 
Ceylon by his daughter Hem&m&la. 

During the struggle that ensued the daughter of the king 
fled with it to Ceylon, concealed in the tresses of her hair, 
about A.D. 310. 

A Siamese account of the flight of this princess to Ceylon, 
translated by Colonel Low, in the " Journal of the Asiatic 
Society of Bengal " for 1848, says, the father of the princess 
was attacked by a confederation of kings in order to get pos- 
session of the relic. On her voyage she was wrecked at a 
place called the Diamond Sands, supposed to be near the 
Kistnah river, where they buried the tooth for three days, and 
then sailed for Lanka in a sewn vessel. This version repre- 
sents some traders from Rom (Rome) who happened to be in 
the vicinity at the time, as assisting the princess in her flight. 

According to Mr. Tumour, it was captui'ed in the beginning 
of the fourteenth century by Ariya-chakawati, general of 
Kulasakera, king of Pandy, and conveyed to India, where it 
remained until Prakrama III., king of Ceylon, went in person 
to the continent to treat for its surrender, and succeeding in 

account of the relic given in the Jour. A. S. of Bengal, 1837, vii. 856 ; but he is 
said to' have only translated part of it The '* Dalada-wanso " was translated 
iato Pali in a.d. 1196. 


his mission carried it back to Polanarrua. It was subsequently 
removed to Kumagalla, 1319, then Gampola and Kotta, near 
Colombo, usually accompanying the court. 

Mr. Fergusson, F.R.S., in the ** Journal of the Koyal Asiatic 
Society " for 1868,^ says it appears that the tooth was taken 
back to India (1187) when Kirti Nissanga, prince of Kalinga, 
reigned in Ceylon, where it remained seventy- six years pre- 
vious to its recovery by the Sinhalese in a.d, 1314 ; but the 
Chronicles are quite silent on this point. 

Marco Polo says, ** several teeth of Buddha were preserved 
in Ceylon, and that KubaU Khan obtained two of them. No 
doubt the envoys were imposed on, not a soUtary instance in 
the accounts given of this wondrous relic, for the Dalada 
seems in all ages to have had a unique history." 

Buddliist sovereigns appear in all times to have been very 
anxious to possess the tooth. In the eleventh century Anar- 
apta, king of Burmah, sent a mission to Ceylon, which seems 
to have had a special manufactory of them, to endeavour to 
obtain it, but only got a miraculous emanation. The place 
where tliis tooth was preserved is still shown, in a building 
attached to the palace of Amarapura. It is said when the 
English got possession of the Kandyan tooth, in 1815, that 
the king of Burmah, Minderagu Praio, sent two embassies to 
Calcutta to treat with them for it.^ 

After its recovery from the Tamils, the next episode in the 
history of the Dalada is its alleged discovery by the Portu- 
guese in Jaflha, when they captured that town in the year 
1560 ; they sent it to Goa, where after some controversy 
between the viceroy Don Constantine de Braganza and the 
ai'chbishop it was destroyed, the archbishop himself pounding 
it to powder with his own hands in a mortar. It was then 

* Some years ago Dr. Bird opened a small tope near the Kankeri caves, Salsette ; 
in it he found a copper-plate recording that a canine tooth of Sakya had heen 
deposited there. The plate was dated a.d. 245. — .T. R. A. S., 1868, p. 150. A 
potentate named Asoka is mentioned in Col. Low's translation of the Siamese 
MS. who could hardly have been the Great Asoka (b.c. 250), as supposed by him. 
Vide Fergusson's ** Account of the Ami-avati Tope." 

- Col. Yule's mission to Ava, pp. 30, 196.— Marco Polo, note to Upham's 
**Rajaratnacari," ii. 70. 



burned in a brazier of charcoal and the ashes thrown into 
the river. 

This ceremony is fully described by De Couto^ in his ac- 
count of the siege of Jaffna. He relates that th^ king of Pegu, 
the most powerful and wealthy prince of his time, hearing that 
the tooth which was so much revered by all Buddhists was in 
the possession of the Portuguese, made unlimited offers in 
money and other advantages in exchange for the relic, offer- 
ing in money alone 300,000 or 400,000 cruzadoes,* but the 
archbishop of Goa prevented the viceroy from acceding to 
the king of Pegu's offer, although Don Constantine and 
his chief officers were very eager to do so, being anxious to 
replenish their coffers.^ 

Of course the Sinhalese maintain that the Dalada at Kandy 
is the genuine tooth, as it had been sent to the Saffi*agam 
district to preserve it from the Portuguese, and it does seem 
very unlikely that the Kandyans should have placed a relic so 
much valued by them in a town like Jaffiia, inhabited by 
Tamils and Brahmins, in the extreme north of the island, 
when there were so many other places quite out of the reach 
of the Portuguese to conceal it in ; but there has always been 
so much confusion and palpable falsehood in the account of 
the Dalada that nothing certain is really known about it. 
Previous to the alleged capture by the Poi*tuguese it was last 
heard of at Cotta, while at the same time the Chinese said 
they had it. As already mentioned, whenever it was captured 
by any of the various parties contending for it, a substitute 
was soon found by the priests and a statement put forth that 
it had been recovered miraculously. 

There appears to be no doubt that the Portuguese did 

' ** Asscntado isto, e feito hum Terino, cm que tcnlos so assign^ram, cujo traslmlo 
est^ em nosso poder na Torre do Tombo, inaudou o Viso-Rey ao Thesoreiro que 
trouxesse o dente, e o entregou ao ArcebiKpo, que alii presentes todos o lan^ou 
em hum almofariz, c com sua propria mSo o plzow, es desfez em pds c os dcitou 
em hum brazeiro, que pera isso mandou trazer,e as cinzas, e carvdes mandou lan9ar 
no meis do rio i vista de todos, que se assomdram ia varandas, e janellas, que 
caham sobre o mar." De Couto, Dec vii, 1. ix., eh. xvii. 431. 

* A cruzado is worth 2*. 9d, of our money. 

3 Vide also Faria-y-Souza, " Portuguese Asia," ii. 206-208, 252. 


destroy some relic of the sort, or what they fancied was the 
tooth. The first traveller who mentions the circumstance is 
Linschoten, who was at Goa about twenty years afterwards, 
but he says they found it at Adam's Peak.^ Sir Thos. Her- 
bert, who visited Ceylon in 1634, has another version, saying, 
** The Portuguese spoiled Colombo and took away the * ape's 
tooth,' and in their zeal burnt it, refusing 300,000 ducats 
oflered for it by the Zeylonese." ^^ 

Faria-y-Souza blames the viceroy, Don Constantine, for not 
having sold the tooth to the king of Pegu, " most of the Portu- 
guese being for taking the money, as the immediate result of his 
virtue was that there were two relics set up in place of the one 
destroyed, one in Ceylon and another in Pegu, for the king 
of that country having been informed by an astrologer that he 
was to marry a Sinhalese princess, sent an embassy to Ceylon 
to ask for one in marriage ; but Don Juan, the king of Ceylon, 
who held his court at Cotta, having no children, a daughter 
of one of his nobles was substituted and despatched with all 
royal and nuptial honours, along with the Peguan ambas- 
sadors to Pegu." Faria tells us, ** the galley of the royal 
bride was covered with plates of gold and rowed by beautiful 
amazons, richly clad and trained for this exercise." ^ 

The ambassadors were informed while at Cotta by the 
minister of the king, who was anxious to obtain the immense 
ransom offered for the tooth by Brama, king of Pegu, that only 
a sham tooth had been destroyed by the Portuguese, for he pos- 
sessed the real relic, which he kept in his own house, as the king, 
Don Juan, had become a Christian. When the king of Pegu 
was told this he sent new envoys and presents to Ceylon and 
obtained the tooth, which was conveyed to Pegu witli great 
pomp and ceremony ; but the king of Kandy hearing of the 
deception practised on the Peguan, sent to inform him of it, 
and at the same time offered his daughter in marriage, and 
the veritable tooth as her dower, the other two being counter- 
feits ; however Brama declined to confess himself duped, and 
was satisfied with his tooth. 

* Travels, Eng. Tnuis. ' Travels, p. 307. Vide ch. xiii. 

3 " Portuguese Asia," iL 252. 

G 2 


It is said the town of Kandy owes its origin to a Vihara 
built there in the thirteenth century as a safe place of deposit 
for the Dalada, the lower country being overrun by the Mala- 
bars, but it does not appear to have been permanently placed 
there until long after the arrival of the Portuguese, when Kandy 
became the capital of the native kings at the end of the six- 
teenth century ; since then it has been the centre of the Budd- 
hist hierarchy. At the insurrection in 1818 the tooth was 
carried away by the priests in charge of it, to aid the insur- 
gents by its presence among them, but it was accidentally 
captured by the English, and brought back to Kandy. Dr. 
Davy describes the wonderful effect its capture had on the 
Kandyans, who ceased their opposition to the British, saying, 
" they had a right to govern them as they possessed the tooth." 

In order to prevent any further occurrence of this kind a 
guard was placed over the temple where it was deposited, and 
the keys of the apai'tment confided to the care of the Govern- 
ment agent of the district. By a singiilar coincidence Mr. 
Tumour, who translated the " DaJadawanso," was at one period 
the guardian. Occasional exhibitions of the relic to the popu- 
lace were permitted. This continued till about 1840, when, in 
consequence of absurd complaints in England that it was counte- 
nancing idolatry, the guard was withdrawn and the priests 
were allowed to do what they liked with their relic. But the 
danger of this proceeding was shown in 1848, when, only that 
the Government agent took possession of it in time, the tooth 
would have been again carried off to aid the insurgents. 

The apartment in which it is preserved forms part of the 
Vihara, in the innermost recess of which is a small chamber or 
sanctum, about twelve feet square, without windows, and per- 
vaded with a hot, oppressive, and highly perfumed air, proceed- 
ing from a profusion of lotus, champac, and jessamine flowers ; 
the walls are lined with gold brocade, and the doors inlaid 
with carved ivory. On a soUd silver table in the middle of 
the chamber stands a bell-shaped shrine, enclosing several 
of the same shape one within the other, the smallest and last 
of them containing a golden lotus on which the tooth is laid. 
The shrine is inlaid with gems and festooned with chains 


set with gems ; but Dr. Davy says none of them are of any 
value. The relic is only a piece of yellow ivory, resembling 
the tooth of a crocodile more than that of a human being. 

Another of the relics of Buddha, formerly exhibited in 
Ceylon, was his Patra or ahns pot. All mendicant saints carry 
a bowl to collect alms — generally a coco-nut shell. This 
relic was most highly valued, and, oddly enough, the Maho- 
metans say it belonged to Adam. The Patra had served three 
Buddhas, and was destined to serve the future one (Matreya). 
The gi'eat Asoka sent it to Ceylon, but it was cai'ried off by 
the Tamils in the first century a.d., and brought back again 
by Gaja Bdhu a.d. 113.^ 

There are, as usual, several rival relics. Fa-Hian gives a 
long account of the migrations of the Ceylon pot. It was 
first at Vaisali, then Kandahar, Khotan, and Bick-balik. He 
speaks of one he saw preserved at Peshawur, and that poor 
people could fill it with a few flowers, whilst a rich man could 
not do so with 100, 1000, or even 10,000 bushels of rice ! It 
was of a mixed colour, in which black predominated. He also 
saw at Balistan, in Uttle Thibet, a vase in which Buddha used 
to spit : it was of the same colour as the alms pot.^ 

Hwen-Thsang mentions that in his time (seventh centurj^ a.d.) 
the alms pot had been removed from Peshawur to the king's 
palace, Pei'sia. 

Marco Polo mentions (as related in Chap. XII.) that Kubali 
succeeded in 1286, after a good deal of negotiation, in ob- 
taining the alms pot from the Sinhalese, and Sir E. 
Tennent obtained the following curious particulars from 
China, which seem to refer to the account of Marco. It is 
taken from a work written in 1350 : *' In front of the image 
of Buddha there is a sacred bowl, which is neither made of 
jade, nor copper, nor iron ; it is of a purple colour and glossy, 
and sounds when struck like glass. At the commencement of 
the Youen dynasty under Koubali, three separate envoys were 
sent to obtain it" (Vol. i., p. 622). 

In Reinaud's " Fragments Arabes " there is an account of 
a wonderful bowl given by an Arabian writer of the nmth 

* Koeppcn, i. 521. ' ii. 70, 106. 


century which probably refers to the alms pot at Peshawur. 
** This bowl also belonged to Adam at the time when the father 
of mankind lived in Ceylon ; it passed from hand to hand until 
it came into the possession of King Kend, or Kefend, who 
reigned in India in the time of Alexander the Great. The 
bowl possessed the virtue of never drying up. A whole army 
might drink from it without reducing the quantity of liquid it 

ViharoB. — Buddhist temples in Ceylon are generally simple 
buildings, with whitewashed walls, and a projecting tiled roof 
forming a verandah, and surrounded by a low wall enclosing a 
small space of ground, usually situated on a slight eminence 
with steps cut in the hill ; if on the side of a river steps are 
formed from the water's edge up the bank. They are always 
surrounded by numbers of flowering trees — such as champac, 
ironwood, Lagerstroeinia and ErythrinaSy whose perfumed 
blossoms are used in the worship of which they form so poetical 
a feature. A Bo-tree is always found growing near the temple, 
derived from the original tree at Anuradhpura, shoots from 
which have been planted near every temple in the island. 

Within the outer enclosure there is generally a small Hindu 
dewale dedicated to Kattregam, Patine, Parvati, or some 
other Brahmin deity, a compromise tliat forms a strange con- 
trast to the deadly hostility of the rival religions in India. 
Hindu gods are said to be also found in Burmese temples. 
The priest's house or pansala, often little more than a shed, the 
better description being made of wattle filled in with mud and 
thatched with cajans, is situated in the immediate vicinity of 
the Vihara. {Vide ch. xxii.) 

The temi)le consists of two apartments — an outer and an 
inner, one which is dimly lighted by oil-lamps and contains 
various statues representing Sakya exhorting his disciples with 
two fingers of the right hand raised, seated under the tree at 
Uruwella, or reclining in a state of blissful repose in Nirvana. 
The air of this apartment is highly perfumed, chiefly with the 
yellow flowers of the champac, their favourite colour. One 
peculiarity of Buddhist worship is tlie profuse use of flowers, 
every part of their Viharas being thickly stiewn with them. 


On the walls of the outer apartment are usually a series of bar- 
barous paintings depicting the transmigrations of Buddha. A 
creature having the figure of a man and the head of a bird, 
with the bill of a hawk, resembling the Egyptian Thoth, is not 
uncommon among them. An ample account of Buddhist temples 
will be found in Clough's work. 

All the utensils of the Viharas are of brass, as in th« Jewish 
temples of old.^ 

In many respects the Buddhist temples of Ceylon are very 
inferior to those in India ; even the great Hindu Pagoda at 
Eamiseram has more pretensions to architecture than any of 
them. The most remarkable are the rock temples, many being 
formed under overhanging ledges of gneiss, as in the picturesque 
Alu Vihara at Matele ; or in caves, as the great temple at 
Dambool, the largest in Ceylon. These are also very inferior 
to the rock temples of India,^ which in many cases have been 
excavated with great labour out of the solid rock, leaving cut 
pillai's at intervals to support the superincumbent weight, while 
those in Ceylon have been formed in natural cavities in the 
gneiss rocks. The Gal Vihara at Topare, formed in the 
twelfth century by Prakrama Bdhu, is the only instance of a 
rock-cut temple in the island. 

The temple at Dambool is constructed in a vast cavern in 
the side of an immense mass of gneiss rock which rises above 
the surrounding level country, forming a conspicuous landmark. 
A steep path in the side of the rock leads up to the opening of 
the cave, some hundred feet above the plain. An entrance of 
cut stone with carved figures is erected in front of the temple, 
a gloomy vault 170 feet long and seventy feet broad, and about 

* Exodus. 

' The most recent work on the rock-cnt temples of India is that of Mr. Fer- 
gusson, F.R.S., 1864, which contains many photographs of them. Ue says, 
** None of these extraordinary works are as old as the reign of Asoka, the whole 
of them having been executed in the fourteen centuries which elapsed between 
the time of Dasaratha his grandson and the completion of those at Ellora in the 
t^-elfth century A.i). ; there are supposed to be 1000 of these temples in India, 
most of them having been Buddhist, as the caves at Salsette and some of those at 
Ellora." An elalwrate account of the Dambool temple will be found in Davy and 
Forbt's's Ceylon, also in the Jour. A. S. of Bengal for 1847, xvi. 341, by Mr. 
Knighton, with a drawing of the rock, which is also in Tennent. 


twenty feet high in front, the roof shelving downwards as it re- 
cedes until it reaches the floor ; the interior is filled witli long 
lines of statnes of Buddha in the three orthodox attitudes, with a 
small dagoba in the centre. There is a resemblance in the 
arrangement of the statues and dagoba at Dambool with the 
pillars and dagoba in the Buddhist chaitj-a in the cave at Kai'li 
in India. The roof is covered with cotton cloths, and the 
walls are embellished with a series of villainous paintings repre- 
senting the principal events of Buddhism in the island — the 
landing of Wijayo, the preaching of Mahindo, and the planting 
of the Bo-tree. Water drops tlirough the rock in one place, 
where it is caught in a chattie and regarded as holy. Among 
the rest of the fabulous statements in the ** Maliawanso," it says 
Kirti Nissanga covered the walls with plates of silver, and the 
roof with tiles of gold. 

The hill temple and dagoba on the top of tlie granite rock 
of Mihintala, 1026 feet above the plain below, is one of the 
most ancient sites of Buddhist worship in Ceylon, and where 
Mahindo is fabled to have alighted for the conversion of the 
island. Two himdred steps cut in the rock lead to the 

In India Buddhist remains take either the form of a toj^e, 
chaitya, or basilica, a vihara or monasteiy, but purely image 
temples were not known except in Kashmir and the north. 
If Sakya lived at the time stated by his followers, it appeal's 
no religious edifices connected with his worship were erected 
until several himdred years after his death. Vide Hodgson on 
** Buddhist Chaityas and Symbols," J. A. S. Beng., xviii. 397- 

Buddhist Priests. — One of the innovations of Sakya on the 
system of the Brahmins was to admit to his priesthood men of 
all castes, not even the lowest being excluded : a preliminary 
noviciate is required, and tlie usual age of ordination is twenty. 

A niunber of vows are taken on becoming a priest, the chief 
being celibacy and poverty ; a married man may become a 
priest, but it involves a divorce and separation while he is a 
priest ; the vow of celibacy is not irrevocable, as he may leave 
the priesthood and marry again. 

Becoming a priest is often a device for obtaining a divorce, 


because when they make a profession of faith and assume the 
yellow robe, a marriage previously made is absolutely dis- 
solved; then, after a time, they can throw off the robe and 
marry again. This practice is less common in Ceylon than 
other Bnddhist countries. In Siam nearly every male be- 
comes a priest some time of his life. The King ever}' year 
shaves his head, wears a yellow robe for a month, and does 

The vow of poverty imposed on the priesthood is very strict ; 
they live by begging in the neighbourhood of the temples to 
which they are attached. In accordance with tliis vow theii* 
robe of yellow cotton is cut into several pieces and sewn 
together again, in order to destroy the value of dress, as or- 
dained by Buddha, his first followers probably covering them- 
selves with a patchwork of rags which they picked up ; their 
heads are closely shaven, and they usually caiTy a fan, to cover 
their faces when passing women on the road. One of Buddha's 
discourses says, '* it is better for a priest to embrace the flame 
and be consumed than go near a woman." There do not 
appear to be many complaints against them for want of chastity 
in Ceylon. The Rev. Speuce Hardy mentions witnessing an 
assault on one (by a number of native women with brooms) 
who was accused of some impropriety, and he was driven away 
from his temple. 

Although Buddhist priests observe strict poverty as indi- 
viduals, in a corporate capacity they can possess property ; 
they are not a secular clergy, strictly speaking, being more 
akin to monks, and were endowed by successive kings to such 
an extent *'they are supposed to have possessed one-third of 
the whole cultivated land in tlie island, and exempted from 
taxation, even long after British supremacy ; but the value of 
their lands was much reduced by the abolition of Raja Karia 
and the destiniction of the tanks." ^ A report on the lands 
held by them was made in 1831 by Colonel Colebroke. 

* This account of Buddhist priests is partly taken from the Rev. SjMjnce Hardy's 
'* Eastern Monasticism," where the reader will find detailed and interesting par- 
ticulars on this subject 

- Tconent. 


It is remarkable that Fa-Hian makes no allusion to nuns, 
although, in the palmy days of Buddhism, they aboimded in 
the island. The "Mahawanso,"^ with its usual exaggeration, 
speaks of 90,000 " Theri ** (158 B.C.), and describes with en- 
thusiasm the admission of a Princess Anul^ and five hundred 
virgin neophytes, clad in yellow, into the order, of which Sangha 
mitt&, Mahindo's sister, seems to have been the chief Then, 
** who died in the sixty-ninth year of her ordination." 

In modern times there have been none of them in Ceylon, 
but they are found in Burmah, Siam, and China. Frequent 
mention is made by travellers of a personage called tlie Queen 
of Heaven among the Chinese, supposed to refer to the Virgin 
Mary ; but the Rev. S. Hardy says this is not the case, as it 
refers to some female saint among themselves. 

The property acquired by Buddhist confraternities in China 
has several»times excited the cupidity of needy Emperors and 
their oflScials, and they have been secularized in the modem 
European fashion ; but what seems a natural longing in many 
of the human race for this mode of life has led to their re- 
establishment under less unscrupulous rulers. 

Sakya appears to have had a good deal of trouble with his 
monks and nuns in India. De Koros gives a translation of a 
code of laws or regulations for monks, 253 in number, all 
arising from some irregularity among them which led to each 
special enactment. Among his regulations we find an order 
prohibiting the seduction of nuns by the priests.^ In the 
Rev. Messrs. Beal and Gogerly's translations of Sinhalese and 
Chinese versions of Buddhist ritual, there are very curious 
and minute regulations regarding the conduct to be observed 
by priests towards women, not to speak to, or sit near 
them, &c.* 

Demonology. — The original worship of the island appears to 
have been tree and serpent worship, which is allied to demon 
worship, and more ancient than either Braliminism or Budd- 
hism. In the mythical account of Stikya's visits to Ceylon, ho 

» C1iap.xviii. 120-125. » Asia. Res., J. A. S. Bcng., 1832, p. 430. 

» J. R. A. S., XX. 54. 


is represented as having converted the Niga, or snake wor- 
shipping King of Kalany.^ 

Snake worship is supposed to have been introduced into 
India from Eg^'pt, where the votaries of the Isiac serpent 
thousands of years since were inspired with alternate hope and 
fear as they watched its languid movements on their altars. It 
existed in Egypt down to the fourth century, a.d. The Ophites 
introduced it into Rhodes, Greece, and Cyprus, and there are 
few countries where some trace of it cannot be found. It still 
exists in Southern India,' and the remains survive in Ceylon 
to the present day in the general dread the Sinhalese have of 
killing a cobra; indeed, until lately there was a temple at 
Jaffna dedicated to the goddess Ndga Tambiran, where they 
were carefully nurtured by a remnant of the ancient faith of 
the island.^ Snake worship, in common with demon worship, 
was no doubt originally inspired by fear, and is a traditional 
proof of the impression made on mankind by the events recorded 
of Eden. The Tamils look upon snakes as creatures of deep 
cunning, and they call a wicked man the seed of the serpent. 
That snake worship was very general in India is proved by the 
frequent mention of Ndga kingdoms there in the "Maha- 
wanso,'* and the practice in Ceylon. Queiy, can the legend of 
St. Patrick driving all the reptiles out of Ireland refer to the 
early prevalence of snake worsliip, and really mean that he 
drove out or destroyed this practice in the island ? Traces of 
tree worship still exist there in the habit of hanging bits of 

* "Mahawanso," p. 6. There are remains of a monument at Bintenne, said 
to have been built in commemoration of Sakya's landing. Tree worship is found 
among aborigines in many parts of the world ; the Tonga islanders lay offerings 
at the foot of certain trees inhabited by demons to propitiate them ; the same 
practice prevails among the inhabitants of the Archipelago, and the North Ameri- 
can Indians place offerings on stones for the spirits of the forest ; the Negroes also 
worship sacred trees, offering food to local demons ; in Sweden, mothers still 
smear with grease and present rag dolls to the elves of the woods on the old sacri- 
ficial stones to save their sick children, and formerly farms and abodes had sacred 
trees inliabited by a local demon or guardian spirit ; bits of rag are hung on par- 
ticular trees in Ashantee. ** Bale " offerings to a yakkho are mentioned in the 
**Mahawanso," A.D. 246, p. 230. 

* J. Fergusson, F.K.S., ** Tree and Serpent Worship, "p. 63— a sect of Gnostics 
called Ophites are said to have existed so late as the sixth century. 

» Casie Chitty, Ceylon branch R. A. S. J., 1847, p. 70. 


rag on particular trees. In the ** Report of the British Asso- 
ciation " for 1871, p. 158, there is an account of tlie discovery 
of " a serpentine mound in Argyllshire, several hundred feet 
long, gradually tapering from head to tail ; there were also evi- 
dences of altars and fire." 

Demonology prevails to an extraordinary extent in Ceylon. 
Every village has its Kattadia, or devil-priest, who lives on the 
superstitious fears of the natives. A whole host of demons of 
every possible variety and description are supposed to infest 
the island, no place being free from their intrusion. Ceylon 
demonology resembles that found among the Tartars and 
Shannars of Southern India.^ Their demons have no power 
over the souls of mankind, only injui'ing the bodj' and 
delighting in human calamities, causing sickness both to man 
and beast ; in fact, everything that goes wrong is attributed to 
them. Often women, imagining they are possessed of devils, 
run about half mad, tear their hair, gnash their teeth, and seem 
as if in a fit. Sinhalese women appear to have a morbid pro- 
pensity to this kind of thing, a sort of mania or hysteria. 
When any of them who are Christians become possessed of a 
devil, the sacristan is sent for, who brings a cross which is held 
before her, and some prayers repeated, while they drive the 
demon out of her by striking her back with the tail of a skate 

Chihlren, when deformed at birth, are supposed to be 
demons, and destroyed; and numerous recipes are current 
among the natives for the manufacture of love potions, and 
charms. An almost incredible account of demonology, including 
the worship of the sun and stars, as it exists in the island, is 
given by M. De Silva, in the Ceylon branch of the Asiatic 
Society's Journal for 1865-6. Among the demons described 
is the " Black Prince," a very respectable demon, less savage 
than the rest of his fraternity. Rice cakes, king cocoa-nuts, 
sugar-canes, &c., are ofiered to him. He is always tonnented 
by the passion of love. When his evil influence falls on 
women, they become ill. Fair young women are very liable to 
his attacks. He was originally a Buddhist priest of gi-eat 

^ Caldwell, Dravidian Gramiiiur, Appen. 


sanctity who could fly. On one occasion, while moving through 
the air, he fell in love with a princess whom he perceived 
below, when he lost his supernatural power and fell to the 
ground, which burst his heart, and he became a demon. 

The most numerous of the demons are the Yakkhos, who in- 
habit particular groves or trees, and are supposed to sally out 
and frighten the passer by with dark shadows, trees thrown 
across the path, and noises. They are fond of living in old 
trees, especially iron wood, Bo, and belli-pata trees, growing 
near paths, wells, dewales, and graves. On this accoimt the 
Sinhalese seldom allow old trees to remain near their houses. 
Little offerings are attached to trees inhabited by these evil 
spirits to propitiate them. In gardens a particular fruit or 
other tree is selected and marked with a band of leaves to 
denote that it has been set apart or devoted to the demons of 
the locality to keep them quiet, after which its fruit is supposed 
to be sacred and cannot be touched, or a branch of the tree 
broken, although it is often the case that the demon is de- 
frauded of his share, and the fruit canied off at night some 
time after the ceremony of putting it aside, under the plausible 
pretext that he does not want it. The demon thus patronised 
is supposed to act in return as a kind of local guardian, keeping 
off tliieves, and preventing sickness among cattle. 

It is also the custom to place part of the rice harvest on one 
side for the demon, in a part of the field arranged as a kind of 
bower, decorated with flowers of the Pandanus odoratissimus 
and olas. A stone is placed under the bower on which are put 
a few sheaves of grain, along with a piece of talipat-leaf, on 
which are written some mystical letters by a devil-priest. 

When any of the natives are taken ill they dedicate a red 
cock chicken to the demon, and send for a Kattadia, who 
dresses himself up to personate the demon, and, after sundry 
contortions of his body, pretends that he is inspired, and 
declares to the patient and those around the nature of the dis- 
ease, and the prospect of recovery. Sometimes a small altar 
is made in the chamber of the sick person, and the fowl sacri- 
ficed, but more often it is let loose among the rest after being 
dedicated to the demon, the priest saving if the patient recovers 


the fowl becomes his property, and comes to claim it. In this 
way, as says Knox, "they go round about and fetch a great 
many cocks together."^ 

The Kapua, or devil-dancers, are also resorted to in various 
emergencies. The hair of these half-frantic, glaring-eyed 
looking individuals is never cut, but allowed to grow an im- 
mense length, hanging about them in disarranged masses, and 
as they go through their frantic performances by torchlight — 
the time usually selected for dancing — ^they look perfectly 

Sorcery and witchcraft are commonly believed in by all the 
natives, particularly the Tamils of the north, and astrologers 
(nakastrikaria) employed to calculate horoscopes at the birth of 
children, and predict marriages. " Sorcerers are usually 
doctors uniting the two professions, and are resorted to by men 
and women for all sorts of immoral purposes. Children's 
skulls are used in their incantations, and they profess to be 
able to procure the deaths of persons. The skull of a fii*st-bom 
male child that has been killed for the purpose is thought to be 
the best, and several cases have occurred in the north of the 
island where children have been made away with to obtain tlieir 
skulls. Persons who wish for the death of another, obtain 
some of the intended victim's hair, and, if possible, some dust 
or sand from his feet ; thus armed, they go to the sorcerer, who 
mixes them up in his presence with some of his saliva on a 
leaden plate, accompanied by various incantations, and mystical 
writings on bits of leaves, which are then placed in the skull, 
and the person departs, after paying the sorcerer, firmly per- 
suaded that the object of his hate will soon come to an untimely 
end."^ This roundabout way of getting rid of persons is not 
always followed, as they often employ the more direct process 
of secret poisoning. 

ChristUmity in Ceylon. — St. Thomas, one of the twelve 
apostles, is said to have preached Christianity in India, and 
there are some legends that he was in Ceylon. The native 

* Tlic Hill Tribes of Garrow, N. E. of Bengal, are said to offer cocks in case of 
sickness, Asiatic Res., iii. 29. Vide M. Joinville in Asia. Res. viL 
' Tennent, Ceylon, iL 647. 


Christians in India are called St. Thomas Christians at the 
present day, and an Indian bishop was present at the Council 
of Nice (325 a.d.). 

Dorotheus, Bishop of Tyre in the time of Constantine, says 
the eunuch of Candace,^ Queen of Ethiopia, preached the 
gospel in Socotra and Taprobane. The inhabitants of Socotra 
were all Cliristians at an early period, and the island may have 
been visited by him on his way, but there is no proof that he 
was in either place. 

Cosmas states that there was a Christian church in Ceylon 
(530 A.D.) for strangers who came there fi'om Persia, from 
which it has been surmised that the Christians alluded to were 
Nestorians, who had planted their form of Christianity in 
Malabar before the sixth century. This is the only allusion 
to Christians in the island that can be found in any other 
traveller's narrative until the time of the Portuguese, except a 
statement in " Edrisi " that there were four Christians among 
the king's councillors. 

In Chapter XIII. it is related how St. Francis Xavier was 
invited to Ceylon by the fishermen of Manaar, and the arrival 
about the same time of a party of Franciscans from Portugal, 
when many conversions were made and churches buUt, prin- 
cipally about Jaffna. 

Baldffius, the Dutch minister,* who appears to have been quite 
free from the persecuting spirit of the majority, of his country- 
men at tiiat time, bears honourable testimony to the success of 
the Catholic missionaries, and difficulties of the Protestants 
in making converts, which he attributed to the variety of forms 
among them, a difficulty which they experience to the present 

* Acts, viii. 27. Vide ch. xxi. Col. Yule's Polo ; Muffei, His. Ind., iii. 61. 

' He writes the following of St. F. Xavier : ** Yet might his piety and other 
commendable virtues serve as an encouragement to all pious ministers to follow his 
footstepa in performing the service of God to the utmost of his jwwer ; it must be 
confessed on all hands that had not the active spirit of the Jesuits awakened the 
Franciscans and other religious orders from their drowsiness, the Roman Church 
had before this time been buried in ruins ; and as for myself, I am very free to 
own that my pen is not capable of expressing the worth of so great a man. " — 
Bald.Tus in Chur. ColL Voy., iii. 607. St. Francis Xavier died of fever in China 
in 1552. 


No sooner had the Dutch got possession of the island than 
they commenced a system of persecution against the native 
Christians and Portuguese descendants, and put one Jesuit to 
death. This continued until they were expelled by the British, 
when all disabilities on account of religion were at once re- 

The native Catholic Christians are most niunerous in the 
vicinity of Manaar ; they are, however, not much to boast of ; 
with few exceptions, their religion is a confused jumble of 
Christianity, Buddhism, and demon worship. Portuguese 
priests find that their converts, and even those bom Cliristians, 
adhere to their old superstitions with tenacity, make offerings 
in Buddhist temples, and seek on all occasions to propitiate 
evil spirits. 

Many of the Sinhalese think it very desirable to belong to 
several religions at the same time, that, in their idea, being 
the safest plan, for in a multitude of counsellors there is secu- 
rity ; they are not at all bigoted, being lazy and indifferent to 
any particular form of worship, provided they can only keep 
the devils quiet. 

" The church of St. Ann at Calpent}Ti is much renowned 
in the island for miracles, and cures effected there, and many 
of the demon worshippers make offerings in it; even the Malio- 
metans do the same, and think they are none the worse for 
paying honour to * Hanna Bibi, or Mama,* as they call her."^ 

There seems to be some softening influence in the air of 
Ceylon on the most bigoted and fanatical of Eastern reli- 
gionists, who here give up a good deal of their virulence : one 
rarely or never hears in it of the fanatical scenes that occur 
among rival sects in India. 

» Sir E. Tennent, Ceylon. 



The majority of the animals of Ceylon which are common 
to India and other places, were described long ago by Linnseus, 
Buffon, Cuvier, and other naturalists, and the Dutch sent some 
specimens from the island which found their way into Euro- 
pean museums, but the first general account of its zoology is 
that of Sir E. Tennent, published in 1861. 

Dr. Davy had previously given a scientific account of some 
of the snakes, and Dr. Kelaart in 1852, published at Colombo 
his " Prodromus Fauna Zeylanica," giving descriptions of 
many S]>ecies previously unknown. Dr. Templeton, R.A., and 
E. L. Layard, C.C.S., also devoted much of th<eir time to a 
scientific investigation of the fauna, obtaining the valuable 
assistance of Mr. Blyth, the curator of the Calcutta Museum, 
in the identification of the specimens they submitted to 
him. The result of their researches, together with in- 
teresting accounts of the habits of the animals, birds, &c., are 
given in various numbers of the ''Journal of the Asiatic 
Society of Bengal,** " The Annals of Natural History," and 
" Proceedings of the Zoological Society.'* In this eniunera- 
tion the name of Robert Knox, Singha's captive, should not be 
omitted, who so faithfully described many of the animals, 
especially the monkeys. 

Since 1861, many new species have been discovered in the 
island, and are described by Drs. Gunther and Grey, and other 
persons interested in natural history, in the periodicals 

The question raised by Sir E. Tennent, of the dissimilarity 
between the fauna of Ceylon and the adjoining peninsula, 



having been discussed in Chapter III. of this work, it is only 
necessary to mention here a few additional particulars on the 
subject. The difference between the fauna of the Austi-alian 
and Asian regions, separated by the Straits of Lombok, is more 
remarkable than that between Ceylon and India; again the 
bintag {Bos Sondicus) is found all through Malay, Burmah, and 
Java, but not in Sumatra.^ With regard to the absence of 
Indian animals in Ceylon, there is no doubt changes occur, 
some disappearing from places where they were abundant^ 
while others become naturalized. There are no elephants in 
the Phihppines at present, but Sir J. Bowring ^ has shown 
they must have been there formerly, while this animal, though 
now wild in Borneo, is said not to be indigenous, having 
been, according to Magelhaen, brought there from India. As a 
general rule, species of all kinds which inhabit islands are few 
in number compared to continents.' 

The faima of the island has a greater resemblance to that of 
Southern India, especially the hills, than any other place. The 
zoology of the Nilgherries and Newera-Ellia are almost iden- 
tical ; birds are found in Malabar, the Nilgherries, and Ceylon 
unknown in other parts of India. There is no doubt a 
considerable difference between Ceylon and India taken as a 
whole, but not much more than between parts of the penin- 
sula. There does not appear to be a greater resemblance 
between the faunas of Ceylon and Sumatra, than between India 
and Simiatra, for although many Malay and Smnatra species 
are found in Ceylon and not in India, quite as many, if not 
more, Malay and Sumatra species are found in India and not 
in Ceylon, of which a long list might be made; for instance, the 
Malayan bear (Ursus Malay ensis ^), several species of Viverra, 
the wild dog of Malay, some monkeys, a dragon, and a baboon, 
Hyhbates agilia, Cuv., in addition to those mentioned in 
Chapter III. There is a marked difference between the fauna of 
the hills and plains of Ceylon ; it is in the hills that nearly aU 

* Murray, Geog. Dis. of Mamm., p. 142. 
' Visit to the Philippines. 

» Darwin, "Origin of Species," pp. 468-470. 

* Horsfield, Catalogue of Mammalia, E. I. Comp. Mus., p. 123. 


the species peculiar to the island are to be found, particularly 
among the birds, also the homed lizards, the lyre-headed 
lizards, two of the viverra, some of the ground snakes, and one 
of the monkeys, even the species of the plains imdergo a 
change in the hills, where Papilio crino differs so much from 
that of the coast, that it is proposed to call it P, montamis. 

Recent discoveries have widely extended the geographicnl 
affinities of some of the Ceylon fauna : tinAriiis has been found 
identical with that of South America, and others closely allied 
to those found in the tropical parts of Australia and Africa, 
where also one of the Tropidonotus and an Acontlas have been 
discovered. Several species of land and . fresh water shells 
from the higher mountain regions of the island, correspond 
with those of Darjeeling, the Nilgherries, Soutliem India, 
South America, Africa, and Oceania. 

Periophthalmus and Mastacemhcliis have been noticed on the 
west coast of Africa : the Ambassis thcrmalis and Perca 
argentu in the Mozambique fresh waters. A connection with 
the Mammalian fauna of the Comoro isles is shown in the 
Vlvcrricula vialaccensis ; \vith the Avi-fauna of the Seychelles, 
in two varieties of Zosterojjs, PdUeornis Alexandriiy a Hypsi-- 
petes and Tinnunculus ; with that of Madagascar, in Pteropus 
Edwardsii, Drymoica, Merops, Alcedo, Tchitrea, HypsipeteSy 
Dicriinis, Pratijicola, Eurystomtis, Saxicola, Zosterops, Ardea, 
Acherona, Trigonodes, and Gasteracantha : some of these forms 
are similar and others closely allied.^ 

With respect to the alleged difference between the elephant 
of India and Ce3'lon, and resemblance of the latter to that of 
Sumatra, Temminck, in his *' Coup-d*oeil sur les Possessions 
Neerlandaises,'* and Professor Schlegel, a Dutch naturalist, 
were the first who started the idea, the latter obtaining in 1845 
some elephants' skeletons from Sumatra, which he foimd on 
examination to differ from those of Bengal, chiefly in the 
dorsal vertebrae, that of Sumatra containing twenty, while 
those of India had only nineteen, and the African twenty-one; 
however, he suggested that perhaps all Indian elephants were 

> Proc. Zoo. Soc., 1865, 1867, p. 103, 345. 

It 1 


not of the same species, and some might yet be discovered in 
unexplored parts, differing from those of Bengal.^ 

Dr. Falconer took up the subject, and ascertained on com- 
paring skeletons of Eleplias indicua in various parts of Bengal, 
that their ribs varied from nineteen to twenty, and iu African 
species from twenty to twenty-one, so that there is no fixed rule 
on this point. The number of true ribs is the same in all the 
species, being only five on each side, the remainder are false. 
Specimens of the three elephants are found ia museiuns with 
twenty dorsal vertebrse in each, and it is very probable that 
some might be obtained from Ceylon with a different number 
of vertebra, as the Sinhalese distinguish a difference among 
them, calling some " high caste," and others " low caste ; '* 
according to them, high caste elephants have twenty nails on 
their four feet, five on each, and low caste only eighteen ; the 
nails of Indian elephants also vary, those of the Saul Forest 
have sometimes five nails on their hind feet, the African has 
only three. Mr. Hodgson in 1832, speaking of elephants, 
remarked, *' It may be questioned if there be not two distinct 
species in India, viz., the Ceylon, and that of the Saul Forest, 
the former differing mateiially from the latter in having a 
smaller head.^ 

Professor Schlegel, on the authority of Herr Diard, a 
naturalist who visited Ceylon a few years ago, makes some 
remarks about the superior intelligence of Ceylon elephants, 
an idea as old as Cosmas ; but Mr. Bl3rth, who had ample 
opportunities of observing both species in India, says, " he 
could see no difference between them ia this respect." * A 
very fine and perfect skeleton of an elephant captured in a 
kraal during the visit of his Boyal Highness the Duke of 
Edinburgh to Ceylon, is now ia the museum at Oxford along 
with some Yeddahs' skulls. 

^ Professor Schlegel's paper was read before the Dutch Academy of Sciences in 
1861, and afterwards translated in the Nat. Hist. Bey., 1862, p. 81. Vide also 
Tennent, Nat. Hist Ceylon, p. 69 ; Teniminck, pp. 91, 828 ; Owen on Limbs, 
IL 437. 

* J. A- S. Beng., 1832, p. 843. 

» Idcni, 1862, p. 169. 


Dr. Gunther, in his work on "The Reptiles of British 
India," says, "Ceylon is the centre, as it were, of a zoological 
province (including Southern India), from which a number of 
peculiar forms radiate, but while some do not reach beyond 
the limits of the island, others extend more or less into the 
peninsula. . . . One of the most characteristic features in the 
reptile fauna of Ceylon, is the total absence of aflBnity with 
Archipelago types, as far as tortoises, saurians, and ophidians 
are concerned ; there are no dragons, no callophidias, no 
calamaria. Whilst a comparison of its batrachia with those of 
the Archipelago does not show a greater diversity than one or 
two species. A connection with the African fauna is shown by 
the presence of Acontindida and a species of chameleon. . . . 
Characteristic forms which extend over to the peninsula, but 
not beyond, are Testudo elegans, Emys trijuga, Salea, Cynophis, 
Hypnale, Dahoia, and Cyclophis calamaria, intermixed with 
others peculiar . . those whose affinity is African are strangers, 
Chameleo is more frequent in India than Ceylon, and a dragon, 
Draco Dmsumieri, is found on the western coast of India." ^ 

Since this was published, some of the reptiles enumerated as 
peculiar have been found elsewhere, for instance Cynophis in 
Borneo ; ^ Daboia elegant or the Tic polonga, is by no means 
confined to Ceylon and the Indian peninsula, being found in 
Burmah ; Hydrosaurus salvator is a remarkable example of the 
affinity between the Saiuians of Ceylon and the Archipelago,* 
while fourteen new and peculiar species of Batrachia have been 

There is a tendency in the fauna of Ceylon to changes of 
colour, so much so, that specimens of the same species have 
been mistaken for new forms, for instance in monkeys, bats, 
squirrels, and birds ; and this should be borne in mind when 
specimens appear to differ from descriptions. 

» Page l.ed. 1864. 

« P. Z. S., 1867, 1869, p. 501. 

' Fa}Ter, Thanatophidee of Ind., p. 32 ; Theobald, Burmah Reptiles ; J. liniu 
Soc., 1870-4 ; Gray, Lizards, p. 171, ed. 1845. 

* Cantor, Catalogue Malay Rep., P. Z. S., 1860, pp. 113, 164 ; Ann. Nat Hist, 
1868, p. 152, 1872, p. 85. 


QuADRUMANA. — Moukeys. — Only two genera of monkey's have 
been found in the island, one called " Presbj^tes/' ^ by Eschott, 
from their white whiskers giving them a venerable appearance, a 
species of baboon nearlj'lallied to Gibbons, which presents four 
varieties, and the Macacus, of which there is only one variety. 

The most numerous of the Presbytes is the " kalu-wanderoo," 
or black wanderoo of the natives, P. cephahptertis, found in 
the lower country, being rarely seen in the higher hills. This 
species, which is twenty inches long, is the dai'kest of the Pres- 
bytes, having^blackish fur inifescent about the head, with white 
beard and whiskers, and accm'ately described by Knox as being 
of a " dark;! grey colour, with black faces and gi'eat white beards 
round from eai* to ear, which makes them show just like old 
men ; they do little mischief, keeping in the woods, eating only 
leaves and buds of trees, — this sort they call "w^anderoo" 
(p, 107). The crested, or "konde- wanderoo" of the natives 
(P. priavius), is something larger than the preceding, wdth paler 
fur, having a brownish tinge and huffish whiskers ; it is dis- 
tinguished by a thick crest of hair on the top of the head. 
They are very common in the north and eastern provinces, 
and more familiar in their habits than other wanderoo, stealing 
fruit in gardens and palmjTa topes, and are said to be vicious, 
attacking and biting native children who come in theii* way.^ 

The Maha, or great wanderoo of the Sinhalese, is a veiy 
distinct short-armed species, only found in the mountain 
districts, and is the largest in the island, being ordmarily about 
twenty-five inches long, and some are found much larger. 
Mr. Bl}'th named them P. ursinus, from theii* resemblance to 
a bear when on tlie groimd, and considered they ai'e very like 
the Himalaya lunger (P. schistaceiis), and not unlike P. Jolinii 
of the Nilgris. Their fur is a dark grey with white whiskers, 
black hands, feet, and tail. This was evidently the species 

^ Semnopitliecus, Cuv. Wanderoo is a corruption of Ouanderou, a general 
term given by the Sinhalese to all the Presb^'tes in the island, distinguishing 
each variety by a prefix. 

' Sir K Tennent says, "The Ceylon wanderoo, P, cepJuilopterus, Zimm., was 
confounded by Butfon and other naturalists with a large and repulsiye-looking 
monkey of the Malabar coast, Silenus veUr^ linn, from the circumstance of 
its also having a large white beard. The wanderoo was first described by Zim- 


mentioned by Knox " as large as spaniel dogs," although his 
description of the wanderoos appears to be more general 
than particular, from his residence in the mountains he could 
have hardly failed seeing this variet}- . 

P. Thersites. — The "Elli," or grey wanderoo, has greyer 
fur and larger and whiter whiskers than the other three 
varieties, and no crest ; they are rather rare, and chiefly found 
in lower central regions. This and the Maha wanderoo are 
peculiar to Ceylon ; the others are foimd in Southern India. 

Dr. Kelaart has sought to establish a new species of Pres- 
bytes (P. albino) a veiy pale, or almost white monkey, being 
found about Dombera and Kumegalle ; they are too numerous 
to be albinos, besides their eyes and face are black, and present 
all tlie characteristics of a pale variety of P. Thersites, which 
they probably are, particularly fi'om both being found in the 
same neighbourhood, or they may be a variety of P. cepha- 
lopterus, which Dr. Blyth says is a variable species in the 
colour of its fur ; he has met with old males in India whose 
whiskers were brown. 

Knox mentions them ; but he says both body and face were 
white, which would imply that those he saw were albinos.^ 
Phny alludes to white monkeys in India (viii. 80). 

All the wanderoos live on fruits and plants, and are gregarious, 
wandering about in large parties through the jungles, the trees 
in some places being alive with them, and are very numerous 
at times about Newera-Ellia. They are not often seen on the 

merman under the name of Lciicoprymnus cephalopteriis, and then by Mr. Bennet 
as Semnopithecus Nestor, P. Z. S., 1833, p. 67. Eleven years after, Dr. Temple- 
ton sent a drawing and description of one ; when Mr. "Waterhouse at the meeting 
of the same Society in 1844 identified it as Bennet 's S, Nestor. S. veter is not a 
Ceylon species, and only found in the island in the possession of Arab horse- 
dealers, who bring them from India.*' — Nat. Hist. In Horsfield's Catalogue, 1851, 
1). 22, S. veter is said to be from Ceylon, but Dr. Kelaart only recognises the 
four species already mentioned. It is not clear how the Sinhalese name wan- 
deroo came to be applied to the animal figured in Buffon; unless it was supposed 
to represent the one named by Knox ; but it is not improbable that some speci- 
mens sent from Ceylon by the Dutch may have been seen by the great naturalist. 
Linn»us describes two white-bearded monkeys, one being named Ouanderou. — 
Cuv. Die. V. 24, 234 ; Buffon, v. 86, 273 ; Linn. v. 10, 26. 
' Kelaart, pp. 5, 7 ; Knox, p. 25 ; Aristotle, H. A., 11, 18. 


ground, where they are cautious and out of their element, 
flying at once to the trees when surprised or alarmed ; it is 
very amusing to watch their gamhols in the trees, accompanied 
by a loud hooting noise, and see the surprising leaps the 
mothers can make from branch to branch with the little ones 
hanging round their waists. They are sometimes] hawked 
about Colombo in wooden cages for sale by the natives, but 
though so active and lively in the woods, they are stupid and 
melancholy in captivity, and do not live long in this state. 
Dr. Kelaart says all the hill monkeys die of decline at Colombo,^ 
which was also the case with a young ouran-outang from Borneo, 
belonging to a doctor. It is curious that the " hanuman " of 
the Hindus (S. enteUvs) found all over India from the extreme 
South to the North, should not be in Ceylon. These were 
the monkeys fabled to have been employed by B^ma in build- 
ing Adam's bridge. P. Priamus is the small-crested hanuman 
of India. 

The rilawa of the Sinhalese, Macacua pileatus, a species of 
bonneted macaque, is a lively little brown monkey having no 
beard, but a smooth pale face and a tuft of hair on the top of 
the head. They are very numerous in most parts of the island 
and southern India, and as Knox says, *' come into gardens 
and do mischief," frequenting the neighbourhood of hamlets to 
steal the fruit. Unlike the wanderoo, these brown monkeys 
bear captivity very well, but are passionate and revengeful, 
and bite severely ; if you go through the pretence of beating a 
person who has annoyed them they dance and scream with 
delight, their faces turning quite white. Numbers of them are 
taken on board ship for England by sailors, but very few sur- 
vive the passage round the Cape, especially in the winter, as 
they suffer much from cold. In one instance an old female 
who lost her young assumed the maternal charge of several 
small ones that did not belong to her, and kept them in very 
good order, slapping them on the face whenever she was 
annoyed by them. They spent most of their time along with 
the pigs under the long boat for the sake of their warmth. 

» BIytb, J. A. S. Beng., xiiL 470, xvi 782, xi 891 ; 1848, p. 175 ; 1852, 
p. 344. 

JilAMMALI^. 105 

Monkeys in a wild state are much fascinated at the sight of a 
dog ; in the pahnyra topes of JaflFna, where they do great mischief, 
they often fall victims to their curiosity to watch its movements. 

A substance called bezoar, composed of phosphate of lime, is 
sometimes found in the stomachs of monkeys {vide ch. xxii.) 
It is a popular idea in India and Ceylon that a dead monkey 
is never seen. The story, according to one version, nms thus : 
** Any one who sees a dead monkey, a straight cocoa-nut tree, 
or a paddy bird's (Ardeola lexLcoptera) nest, will live for ever."^ 

The loris {L. gracilis) *'oona happolava" of the Sinhalese, 
is a species of sloth, a little nocturnal animal, eight inches 
long, allied to the monkey and lemur, a very iminviting-looking 
creature, with owl-like eyes, stealthy and sluggish in its move- 
ments, spending the principal part of its time J sleeping, rolled 
up like a baU, with its head between its legs. They will eat 
anything offered them — ^meat, fruit, milk, beetles, &c., but do 
not live long in captivity. 

There are two varieties in the island, one rather common, of 
a brown colour, and a larger variety with black fur, NycticibtLS 
Ceylonicus, which is rare; it is doubtful if they are distinct 
species, and are only found in the lower country. The loris 
are remarkable for an extraordinary meagreness of body and 
limb, and are strictly arboreal animals, preying on birds at 
night. Their movements are almost imperceptible, paw after 
paw is silently advanced along a branch until within reach of 
its victim, when it is seized by the neck with the rapidity of 
lightning, and their grasp is so tenacious they never let go. 
The natives say, although so small, they can kill a peacock, 
but only eat their brains ; they also prey on lizards and suck 
birds' eggs. 

Cheiroptera. — ^As soon as the sun sets a multitude of bats 
fill the air, many entering the open rooms and seizing flies. 
There are about twenty species, including the large fruit-eating 
section, the majority preying on insects. They are of various 
sizes and shades of colour, from a muddy brown to the rich 
orange or red of the painted bats ; it has been remarked by 

^ Buchanan's '< Bhagalpor,'* p. 142, quoted by Sir K Tennent. Vide ch. 


Geoff. St. Hilaire that the colours of bats become brighter as 
they approach the equator, accounting for the vivid hues of 
some Ceylon bats, which has made many suppose they were a 
different species from those of India.^ 

The tei-m Cheiroptera applied to the bat family is derived 
from the Greek, meaning winged hands. Spallanzani ascer- 
tained by a number of cruel experiments that they are endowed 
with a strange perception of the vicinity of another body, which 
enables them, even when deprived of sight, hearing, and smell, 
to direct their flight with marvellous accuracy, avoiding the 
thi*eads he suspended to intercept them in this state, but 
the seat of this power was not known until Cuvier demonstrated 
that it lay in the wings, wliich possess an extraordmary degree 
of sensitiveness. Dr. E. Schobe, of Prague, has recently 
ascertained that what Cuvier took for nerves in the wings are 
elastic trabeculae.^ Bats are thought to be deficient in the power 
of sight possessed by other noctm*ns, which enables them to 
see clearly in the gloom of night, and doubtless if such is the 
case, this strange faculty supplies the deficiency. 

Their largely-developed ears are also supposed to aid them 
in giving a more acute sense of hearing, and the strange nasal 
leaflets on the extremit}^ of the nose of some, a more intense 
power of smell, but the latter appears to be only an idea, as it 
is not explained why some bats have tliem and otliers not. 

It has not been ascertained if the large variety of Cheiroptera, 
named Pteropii^, possess the same sensitiveness in their wings 
as the smaller bats experimented on, which is doubtful, as their 
organs of sight do not appear to be defective. 

Horsfield has ascertained that in India the larger bats prey- 
on the smaller Vespertilio, sucking their blood from an incision 
they make behind tlie ear, and afterwards devouring their 
victim, previously voiding the blood extracted, which in some 
measure substantiates the statements of Steadman and others 
respecting the South- American vampii'e (F. spectrum). The 
Megadenna lyra is also quite omnivorous, eating frogs, fish, and 

" Blyth in Kelaart, Fau. Zey., p. 40 ; Naturalists' Lib., ii. 113. 
» Quoted in "Nature," Kov. 1869. 


beetles.^ This savage propensity does not appear to have been 
ever noticed in any of the bats of Ceylon, but it has been re- 
marked that the males and females are never seen in the same 
locality except at certain times of the year, a pecnliaiity com- 
mon to bats everywhere — none of them hybemate, as in 
Europe, being in an active state all the year, and have 
generally a veiy disagreeable odour about them, sti'ongly de- 
veloped in the Pteropus. 

Pteropm, — There are two varieties of flying-fox, as they are 
called by the Europeans, from the great resemblance their 
heads bear to a fox. The largest, " loco-voulha " of the natives 
P.Edwardsii, Geoff.,attains a considerable size,some specimens 
measuring from tlu^ee to four or even five feet with wings ex- 
panded ; the body and head are covered with a short tawny-brown 
hair, but the wings have none except a little on the outer parts, 
and have the appearance of parchment stretched on a frame. 
They have no legs, strictly speaking, the body terminating in 
two limbs connected with the wings, ending in something be- 
tween the hand of a monkey and the claw of a bird. They 
consequently can only fly or hang in a pensile position with 
the head down. Nocturnal in their habits they spend the day 
in a state of semi-torpor suspended fi'om the branches of trees 
in shady retreats, congi'egating in some localities in great 
numbers. In the eastern province they are found roosting 
along with herons and other birds of that description. Sir E. 
Tennent mentions that ** they swaim in the Peradenia gardens 
like bees, breaking the branches of the trees from their weight," 
but, generally speaking, they are rare in the mountain districts. 
After sunset they take wing with slow movement and strange 
barking noise, to eat fruit, on which they chiefly live. When 
thus engaged they are quarrelsome, fighting and biting each 
other, with loud screaming. During the time of toddy drawing 
they frequent the palm trees to drink the sweet liquid, a habit 
that has also been remarked by the natives of the Maldives. 
Their flesh is said to be eaten by the half-caste Portuguese in 

Dr. Bennet, in the *' P. Z. S." for 1863, mentions an instance 

' Page 81. Vide also Blyth on Camivorooa Bats, J. A. S. Beng. 1842, p.;255. 


of fish-catching on the part of the flying-fox, which, as he re- 
marks, does not seem to have ever been noticed by any other 
observer of their habits : " At Chingleput, in JIndia, about 
six p.m. in April, there was a slight shower and a number of 
small fish were gamboling in the water of a tank, when several 
flying-foxes hovering over it seized the fish in tlieir claws and 
flew off with them to a tamarind tree on the bund of the tank 
to devour them at their leisure ; " this proceeding was repeated 
on several evenings. 

Bats. — The largest in the island is H. insigna, measuring 
21 inches expanse of wing ; margin and red-eared bats, colee- 
kan voulah of the Sinhalese, are very common, and the long- 
armed species {Taphozous longimanus) rare.^ Some of the 
Scotophilus genus are remarkable for their very small size ; one 
of them (S. Coromandelicus) is a tiny familiar animal of a 
deep black colour, common about Colombo. 

The painted bat, kehel voulha of the natives (Kerivoula 
jpicta) is common among plantain trees, eating the fruit. Some 
of them are covered with citron or red markings on a dark 
ground of brownish crimson. 

A golden-yellow Hipposideros (ff. aureus of Kelaart), sub- 
mitted by him to Mr. Bl}ih as a new species, turned out to be 
a variety of H, Speoris of India, where it is a dusky-black 
colour. The tints of Ceylon bats vary considerably, even in 
the same species ; some of H. murinus have been found quite 
black, and others a bright yellow-brown.* 

Carxivora. — Shrews. — Two or three species peculiar to the 
island have been found in the moimtains. One, F. macropus, 
Kelaart, is a water-shrew of large size and uniform bluish colour. 
S. montanus is very smaU and black. Mr. Blyth considers 
them to be new and distinct species. The common musk shrew 
or musk rat of India (5. indicus) is one of the nuisances of 
Ceylon, as they frequently enter houses and rooms, immediately 
impregnating the whole apartment with a detestable odour, 
which comes from a liquid secreted in sebaceous glands on 

1 Blyth, J. A. S. Beng. xvii. 252. The fljing-fox is also called Boussette. 
^ * Blyth in Kelaart Appen. ; also J. A. S. Beng. (1852-5). 


the flank of both male and female^ and supposed to be onlj 
developed at particular times. 

Bears. — There is only one species found in the island : the 
southern India bear {Prochilus labiatiis), a very uncouth-look- 
ing animal, with deep black fur, named *' Oosa" by the natives ; 
they are not often seen in the higher mountains, being most 
numerous in the northern districts, and are said to live chiefly 
on fruits varied with ants and wild honey found in the hollows 
of trees. 

Pliny says bears like being stung by bees, as it relieves their 
heads like drawing blood (viii. 54). According to Colonel Sykes 
the Indian bear is not a vegetarian : a tame one he had pre- 
ferred roast mutton and milk to all other food.^ 

Sir Samuel Baker, who has had some experience of the wild 
animals of Ceylon, says " the bear is a very savage brute, and 
will attack any person he encounters at once."^ No doubt 
they are fierce and formidable opponents to venture near, and 
many natives can show the white scars left from encounters 
with them. Some years since, when they were more numerous 
than at present, they occasionally molested post-office runners 
(who travel at night), in the Putlam district. The natives use 
charms against them, as they do for everything they are afraid 
of, but, as may be imagined, without much effect. " A Euro- 
pean sportsman saved the life of a Moor by killing a pursuing 
bear which the Moor had approached too near from over-confi- 
dence in his charms.'*^ According to the natives the old bears 
carry their young on their backs. 

During a great drought which occurred in 1849, the wells in 
the Carretechy district * were so frequented by bears in search 
of water that the women were afraid to go near them. Several 
of the animals were found to have fallen in. Bears are said to 
damage sugar plantations in India, eating the canes when they 

The following return of the number of wild animals killed 
in the island from 1854 to 1868 is taken from the reports of 

» J. A. S. Bcnfr, 1832. » "Rifle and Hound," p. 199. 

* Tennent, Nat. Hist. * Layard, Ann. Nat Hist., 1852, p. 887. 


the Governor in the Blue Books 1866 (vol. Ixviii). A reward 
of 58. was paid by Government for each : — 

Panthers. Bears. 

Jaffna 138 244 

Manaar 7 110 

Wanny ..... 138 834 

Newera kalany . . 190 321 

473 1009 

Jackals {Cams aureus). — These animals are common in most 
•eastern countries. The English name for them appears to be 
derived from the Arabian " chathal ; " they are chiefly 
nocturnal in their habits — shunting hares and small deer in 
packs at night, accompanied by a loud and hideous yelling. 
The howling of a pack of jackals in the stillness of night has 
something appalling in it. " In India they hang about camps, 
sneaking into the tents at night and stealing the soldier's boots, 
being a bold and impudent animal.** ^ The Sinhalese call them 
"nareeah,** and are something between a fox and a dog in 
appearance, having reddish brown fur mixed with black ; the 
tail ends in a black bushy tuft. The leader or oldest animal 
in a pack has sometimes a small bony protuberance growing 
out of the back of the head covered with a homy tuft of hair, 
which is considered by the natives as a kind of talisman and 
to keep oflf thieves.^ The same idea exists among the natives 
in Bengal, who think the possessor of one of these horns is 
sure of success in every undertaking.^ Jackals are common 
all over the island, paiiiicularly in the north ; those of the 
interior have greyer fur than their brethi*en on the coast. 

The jackal is supposed to be the animal so often mentioned 
in the Bible, where it is called a " fox,'* and are considered in 
the East to be quite as artful. Pliny mentions it under the 
name of " Thos,** an animal resembling a wolf, liNing by the 
chase, but never attacking man ** (lib. viii. 52). . 

' Jcrdan. 

• Tennent, Nat. Hist. Ceylon. A jackal's skull with a horn is in the College 
of Surgeons, London. 

» Torrens, P. Z. S., 1855, p. 131. 


Pariah dogs. — This is the Sinhalese or rather Indian name 
for what are called " curs '* in England, meaning literally a 
" low-caste dog," who swarm in all the bazaars and hamlets 
of the natives, and seem to be a near relation of the jackal, 
living on any garbage they can pick up in the streets. These 
wretched, mangy, half-starved animals, who apparently have 
no masters, are one of the anomalies of Eastern countries, being 
found in every town and village from Constantinople to 
Calcutta. Various plans have been tried by the Government 
in Ceylon to abate the nuisance, but without eflfect. The in- 
surrection of 1848 was partly caused by a tax imposed on them. 
** At one time a reward was oflfered for every dog killed, but 
it was found this only increased their numbers, for the horse- 
keepers and others bred them on pui'pose in order to kill 
them afterwards for the sake of the reward.'*^ 

European species of dogs do not thrive in Ceylon, particu- 
larly on the coasts, where those imported speedily die of liver 
and other complaints. 

Viverra. — The Indian genette {Viverricula ^malaccensis) 
** ooralawa '* of the natives, is a musk-yielding animal, about 
80 inches long, of a grey-brown, with dark streaky spots, and 
seven or eight black rings on the tail. They are great destroyers 
of poultry, and numerous in the north, where they are kept in 
cages for the sake of their musk, which is an unctuous secre- 
tion contained in an anal pouch formed by a fold of the skin. 
Europeans in the island call them civet cats, but they are 
another species found in Africa, distinguished by black stripes 
instead of spots. 

The palm or toddy cat {Paradoxurus typus), "oogoodova"of 
the Sinhalese, is common all over India and Ceylon where 
palms grow, spending the day asleep in the heads of these trees, 
descending at night to prowl about hen-roosts and kill poultry. 
This species is a dark brown or black colour ; a golden-furred 
variety (P. aureus), is peculiar to Ceylon. Although a carni- 
vorous animal and particularly fond of birds, the palm-cat will 
live for months in captivity on vegetable food. 

Three species of mongoos are found in the mountains about 

* Tennent. 


Newera-Ellia, who are chiefly frugivorous and arboreal in their 
habits.^ One of them, called the Ceylon badger by the Euro- 
peans on account of its bushy brown fur, and " loco moogata " 
by the natives, is the streaked mongoos, {H.viticoUis) of southern 
India. H, flavcus, Kelaart, has a rich orange-brown fiir^ 
and H, rubiginosus deep red. According to Mr. Blyth,* both 
have been found by Elliot in southern India ; while Dr. Gray 
in his classification of the Viverra (P. Z. S. 1864), makes them 
peculiar to Ceylon. He also says the animal known as Viverra 
indica, supposed to have been a distinct species, is now con- 
sidered to be identical, or at least only a variety of F. rasse, 
Hodgs. of Java, Viverricula malaccensiSf Gray. Dr. Peters says 
it is the same animal as the tunga of the Comoro Isles, and 
that the Mammalian fauna of these islands agrees more with 
that of India than Africa.^ 

Kellaart*s H, flaveus was described by Dr. Gray, under the 
name of Cynictcs McCarthii, in P. Z. S., 1851, and his H. 
mbiginosus as Calictcs Sviithii, and //. Smithii, Ann. Nat. His. 
1855, living specimens of them being then in the Zoological 
Gardens, London, brought from the north and centre of 

The most interesting of all the Viven*a is the celebrated 
ichneumon, or grey mongoos {Herpestes griseus), so remark- 
able for its enmity to snakes. This brave little agile animal, 
which has some resemblance to a weasel, is of a dark grey 
colour, with a very bushy tail and a long, flexible body. When 
a mongoos and a cobra are placed in an empty room both seem 
unwilling to commence the fray, and, generally speaking, the 
snake is the most afraid of the two, making every effort to 
escape. At length the mongoos commences by making a series 
of feints to weary and distract the snake, until an opportunity 
presents itself to make a sudden spring at the head or neck 
and give it a good bite. This mode of attack is repeated until 
the snake is worried to death. Sometimes the mongoos get 
bitten in their encounters, but a few scratches do not affect 
them. It has been supposed that these animals have some 

> Kelaart, Fau. Zey., p. 43. ^ j, A. S. Beng., 1851, 1852. 

•'• Kiesse, Nach. Moss., p. 13. 


property in their blood which renders them proof against the 
poison so fatal to others, and to some extent the mongoos does 
appear to be less susceptible to the poison than other animals 
of the same size, a property also possessed by cats in a lesser 
degree ; but the experiments of Dr. FajTer show that the real 
bite of a cobra can be as fatal to a mongoos as any other 
animal, in one instance dying within thirty minutes after being 
bitten. The quantity of long hair on theii* bodies may at 
times protect them, in preventing the poison from the snake's 
fangs being conveyed into the wound.^ 

Although very courageous, there is no doubt tlie mongoos 
has an instinctive dread of the fangs of a cobra, which is 
apparent to any person who has seen these encounters, and the 
cunning displayed in their modes of attack to avoid being 
bitten. This was remarked by the ancients, who represent 
the ichneimion as adopting various devices to render itself 
proof against the fatal power of snakes. Pliny says this 
animal plunges itself into mud, and when well coated and har- 
dened goes to the combat, raising its tail;^ and iElian and 
Lucan also describe it as diverting the attention of the reptile 
by the motion of its tail. 

'' Aspidas ut Pharias cau(U solertior hostis. 
Ludit, et iratas incerta provocat umbrA." — Phars. iv. 720. 

The Aspis of the ancients is supposed to be the Naja-haji of 
the modem Eg^'ptians, a variety of the cobra ; and the ichneu- 
mon was one of the sacred animals of ancient Egypt. Pliny re- 
presents various birds, Uzards, and the toi-toise, as eating certain 
plants, antidotes to snake bites, which is also a modem idea. 
Rumphius positively states that the mongoos eats some of the 
Ophiorhiza mongoos before an encounter, or after being bitten, 
and several other plants have been named in connection with 
them, but there is no authentic case of their ever having been 
seen in the act of eating any of them. Some natives say the 
mongoos does eat a plant, while many reject the idea {vid^ 
ch. xxvi). " The mongoos is an inquisitive little animal when 
let loose about premises, poking its nose into every hole and 

» ** Thanatophidfe of India," ed. 1872, p. 30. 
^ xm. 24, 35, 36 ; Mim, Ub. iii. 22, iv. 49. 
VOL. II. -1. 


comer, and a famous killer of rats. Mr. Bennet says a grey 
mongoos in the Tower menagerie killed in a room twelve rats 
in one minute and a half."^ 

Leopards. — The Felis pardus, "cooteah" of the Sinhalese, 
Tariously called panther, leopard, and cheetah, by the Europeans, 
is the true leopard, and the largest of the feline family found 
in the island. As every person knows, they are distinguished 
from the tiger by a spotted instead of striped skin. Their 
usual height is twenty-eight inches, and they are about three 
feet and a half long, the tail being something less. 

It has long been supposed that there is a distinct species of 
leopard with a black skin, F. melas, leopards of that colour 
being occasionally, though rarely, found in several countries ; 
but it is now certain that there is only one species of panther or 
leopard, varieties in size and colour being merely accidental. 
Black cubs have been found in litters in India, the rest being 
the usual colour, and a specimen was sent from Bangalore in 
1867 to England, whose portrait was given in the " Illustrated 
London News," Febuary 8th, 1868. Temminck says a black 
cub was found along with others in a panther s den in Java. 

Knox speaks of one he called a ** black tyger," having been 
found in Ceylon, and one was shot at BaduUa some years since 
by an officer, the Kandyans saying tliat only one other had 
been seen in their time.^ Sir S. Baker says th^re are two 
species of leopards in Ceylon, one of which lie implies to be 
the cheetah, or hunting leopard of India, (F. jubata,) which is 
certainly not found in the island, the variations he speaks of in 
size and colour being natural to the panther. The natives say^ 
they are of two sizes. Humboldt,^ and some other writers, 
have incoiTectly placed the tiger in Ceylon. 

Leopards are very expert in climbing trees, commonly 
spending the day asleep among the lower branches, and prey 
very much on monkeys, and kill bullocks and other animals 
belonging to the natives, but are cowardly in their natures, 

* Horsfield's Cata., p. 106. 

' MacMaster's ** Notes to Jerdon's Mammals o'f India;" Horsfield's Cata. ; Col. 
Yule's Marco Polo, ii. 317; Kelaart, p. 46. 

* Edition of 1843, p. 340. 


■shrinking from the sight of man, whom they very rarely attack, 
and a large hound is a match for many of them, although small 
dogs are often victimised. They are very numerous in most 
parts of the interior, forty or fifty being killed every year with 
spring guns, and caught in traps, when they return to eat the 
remains of the bullocks they carry oflf. 

Pliny says panthers were sacred to Bacchus, from their sup- 
posed love of wine (lib. viii. 17). It is a popular error to sup- 
pose that they cannot retract their claws. 

A tiger-cat, F. viverrinits, with black stripes, and a red 
spotted wild cat, F. affinis, resembling a lynx, are both common 
in the lower country. E. W. Holdsworth, F.Z.S., in the 
P. Z. S., 1872, describes a newly discovered variety of the red 
•cat, similar to F. Jerdonii, of Southern India (P. Z. S., 1868). 
RoDENTiA. — Squirrels. — These lively little animals are found 
in all parts of the island, making the jungles echo in the 
mornings with then* shrill cry, as they bound among the 
branches or run up the trees, signaling to each other the 
appearance of wild cats, who prey on them. The natives call 
them ** rookaali.'* 

Naturalists find squirrels very diflScult to distinguish from 
each other, on account of the general similarity which exists 
among them, and the variation in specimens of the same 

There are fewer varieties of species in Ceylon than in India. 
Some have been added to the list since Sir E. Tennent's book 
was pubUshed. The large black variety, named after him S, 
Tennentii, according to Dr. Gray's^ arrangement of Asiatic 
squirrels, is not a peculiar species, but only a variety of the 
common verj'^ dark brown rock squirrel, found in the western 
parts of the island, which is subject to changes of colour, some 
being black or grizzled. However, there is some reason to 
doubt that this black squirrel is the same species, being much 
larger than the rock squirrel, and is said never to be seen in 
the same places with it, frequenting the higher mountains. 
Mr. Blyth says it resembles in size and colour the large 


1 Ann. Nat. Hist., 1867, xx. 278. Vide list at end of this chap. 

I 2 


common black squirrel, S. bicolor, of Eastern Bengal, but yet 
entitled to rank as a (liflferent species.^ 

A remarkable ground squirrel, Macroxus sublineattis, similar 
to that of the Nilgherries, S. suhUneatus, is found about Newera 
Ellia, and the higher mountains. The fur is dark olive, 
sprinkled with black, and has three narrow white streaks along 
the back, black tail, reddish grey chest and under parts. This 
squirrel is much subject to variations in colour, six or seven 
varieties having been observed. 

Layard*8 mountain squirrel is a pretty little almost black 
species, with three orange or yellow streaks on the back. A 
specimen will be found in the British Museum. Among the 
new species added to the fauna of the island by Dr. Gray is 
the Raffles Java squirrel, M. vittatns, although it has been 
doubted if it be a native of the island.^ It is found in Mala- 
bar, Malay, and Cochin China. The fm' is olive with yellow 
streaks on the side, and a rufous chest. 

Flying Squirrels. — Two species of these remarkable animals 
have been found in the island, but they are rare, chiefly fre- 
quenting the hills about Ilambodde. The largest variety ,. 
Pteromys petauriata, with brown fur, is common to India and 
other places. The Sinhalese call them " egala-dandolejua." 

A membrane, connected with the skin of the flanks, extends- 
along each side, joining the fore and hind legs, reaching down 
to the feet. They are enabled by the assistance of this singu- 
lar contiivance, which spreads out when in the air, to make 
prodigious leaps among trees, usually leaping from the top to 
the ground. When walking or running, the membrane is 
folded up along their sides. 

The other species is a sub-family, distinguished by the addi- 
tion of flat tailsy ** Sciuropterus " of Cuvier, several varieties of 
which have been lately discovered in India, and one in Ceylon 
supposed to be peculiar to it, S. Layardii, allied to S, caniceps 
of the Himalaya. The fur is a rufous brown on the back, and 
white imdemeath, mth a white face and long black whiskers ;. 
the tail is broad and flat and one foot long, the body being the 

* J. A. S. Beng., 1851, 1847, xvi. 869, 1849, 602. 

* Blanford, F.Z.S., Ann. Nat. Hist., 1868, p. 152 ; Gray, uleni, 1867. 


same length.^ Fl3ring squirrels are said to be nocturnal in 
their habits in India.^ 

Rats. — These uninteresting animals are very numerous. 
One species has developed its powers of mischief to an alarming 
extent since the extension of coffee-planting, proving a scourge 
to the planters ; and two have been introduced by ships. One, 
the black rat (Mm ratttis, Linn.), called "kalu-meeyo** by the 
natives, was foimerly very numerous in England, but now 
nearly extirpated by the common brown rat, (Mus decumanus,) 
brought from Norway, which seems to have the power of 
naturalizing itself everywhere, is found in Ceylon as well 
as the black rat in large numbers, and will probably end in 
expelling all the others, as tJie fecundity of the Norway rat is 
€xtraordinar}% having nine young three times a yeai*. It is 
said to be of Asiatic origin. 

Waterton, tlie naturalist, is quite pathetic when he describes 
meeting with ** a poor exiled British rat abroad, worried out of 
its native country by its prolific rival to find a home in other 

Mus bandicota is the most remarkable of the indigenous 
species, called by the Europeans the pig-rat or bandicoot, a cor- 
ruption of the Tamil *'pandi-koku," "oora meeyo" of the 
Sinhalese ; they are a great size, weighing from two to three 
pounds, and of an asliy brown colour, with hind legs rather longer 
than the fore, a long head and pointed nose. They burrow in 
the earth, and feed on vegetables, rice, and other grains. The 
Malabars who eat them say their flesh resembles pork. They 
are found all over the island, being of a large size at Newera- 

The coffee-rat is similar to Elliot's M. hirsutus of Southern 
India, " watte meeyo '* of the Sinhalese, a small species about 
four inches long with reddish-brown thick stiff hair, pointed 
nose, and very sharp teeth, who make their nests under roots 
of trees. They made their first appearance on the coffee estates 
in the Kandyan provinces, climbing up the trees and branches^ 
and eating the buds and blossoms. 

They migrate in vast swarms from one place to another, 

^ Layard, Ann. Nat Hist., 1852, p. 837. ^ MacMaster'a Notes. 


Kving principally on the nillo seeds, and when they are ex- 
hausted, transfer their attentions to the coffee plantations, 
much to the annoyance of the planters and dehght of the 
Malabar coolies employed on the estates, who eat them fried 
in oil. A thousand have been killed on one estate in a single 
day : and so destructive are they, that some plantations ran a 
risk of being destroyed : the planters offer rewards for their 
capture. Great swai-ms of rats migrate in the Dekkan, de- 
stroying the crops, ^ likewise in Burmah. 

Rats are also eaten by the Veddahs, who cut them open, and 
then smoke and diy them, like red heiTings over a fii'e, on a 
wooden frame. 

There are two species of tree rats, M. rufescens — ** gas- 
meeyo " of the Sinhalese, and M. nemoralis. The first is white- 
bellied, with reddish-brown fm* on the back, and the other 
darker : they are rarely foimd in low places, frequenting tops^ 
of trees, and roofs of houses. ( Vide ch. xxvi.) 

Burrowing, or field-rats, genus Nesokia, distinguished by 
short tails and long cutting teeth, present two vaiieties, found 
also in South India and Nepal. 

The cinnamon garden-rat, M. Ceylonicus, the Newera-Ellia 
rat, a tawny-coloured buiTowing species living in paii-s, and a 
red-bellied mouse, M.fulvidiventris, are peculiar to Ceylon. 
The Indian Jerboa, (JerbiUus Indicus,) a jumping or kangai'oo- 
rat, is foimd all over the island, and is very numerous in the 
cinnamon gai'dens. They are about fifteen inches long, of a 
light brown colour, and make deep holes in the ground, eating 
grains, grass, and roots, and are also carnivorous. 

There is a long description of Ceylon and Indian rats by 
Blyth in the J. A. S. Bengal, 1868, where he corrects some 
mistakes of Dr. Kelaart. 

Hares. — The black-necked hare, **hava" of the natives, 
L. nigricoUis, is common in most parts of tlie isle, and is. 
found in South India, Java, and Mauritius, but not in Bengal. 

The Porcupine (Hystrix leucurm) is another of the rodentia^ 
very hostile to planters, destroying young cocoa-nut trees ; and, 
being very crafty, are not easily caught ; but the natives smoke- 

» CoL Sykes, J. A. S. Beng., 1832, p. 165. 


them out of their holes, and sometimes trap them in a narrow 
ti-ench, the bottom of which slants downwards, the bait being 
placed at the lower end. When the porcupine reaches this 
point, the trench is too narrow for him to turn, and the quills 
prevent his backing out of it. They are gi'eat robbers of grain, 
which they store up in holes. In India the natives search for 
these places, and use the gi-ain they find in them. The old 
story mentioned by Pliny (viii. 58), of the porcupine darting 
out its spines at assailants, is not correct ; but they shake 
them with a loud noise when alarmed. 

Mr. Blyth considers it doubtful whether the Ceylon porcu- 
pine is not a distinct species. Specimens have been sent to 
him from the island diffeiing from the Indian ; or there may 
be two species in it. A small variety is said to be found in 
tlie north about Chilaw and Jaflfna.^ There are no moles, 
or hedgehogs in the island ; although both are found in the 

Horses are only used for pleasure, and are all imported, 
chiefly fi'om the Persian Gulf, some from the Ai'chipelago, and 
a few from Australia, which are considered the best. The 
majority of those brought from the Gulf are a miserable, weedy 
and vicious kind of pony, having but one good quality — that 
of endurance. The Pegu pony — as they are called in the 
island — from Achin, are a much better class of animal, being 
hardy, sure-footed, and docile, usually piebald, with deep 
necks and strong fore-quarters. Their manes are cut short. 

Baldseus mentions that when the Dutch arrived in Ceylon, 
they found some wild horses in the lie de Vacas, near Jafl&ia, 
descended from those let loose there by the Portuguese. 
Schreuder, one of the Dutch governors, succeeded in breeding 
some horses ; and a miserable kind of pony was, some years 
since, reai-ed at Jaffna, a mixture between the Arab and Car- 
natic. Entire horses ai*e found to stand the climate best: 
any others are rare. They are all exceedingly vicious ; andim- 
pleasant scenes frequently occur when persons riding them get 
too near. 

The importation of horses is as old as the time of Cosmas. 

^ J. A. S. Beng., xviii. 


It is thought these animals do not thrive in Ceylon. After a 
time they become dull and feeble. The same remark applies 
to them in Southern India, where the ill success in breeding 
horses was formerly exaggerated into an impossibility, and ex- 
tended to all India. A Persian historian, speaking of an 
elephant that was born in a stable in Persia, says : " Never 
till then had a she elephant borne young in Iran, any more than 
a lion in Rum, a tabby cat in China, or a mare in India." 

In Ceylon they are fed on grain, a kind of pea {Cicer are'i- 
tennm), and rice soaked in cold water, with grass. They do 
not give them the strange food we are told they get in Southern 
India to keep up their system, — such as milk, ghee, sugar, and 
occasionally, a boiled sheep's head ! This is mentioned b\^ 
Marco Polo, who also comments on the impossibility of breed- 
ing horses tliere, "the best blood producing nothing but a 
wretched, wry-legged weed not fit to ride.'* 

Wassaf says : " they bind them in a stable for forty da3's 
with ropes and pegs, in order that they may get fat, when the 
Indian soldiers ride them like demons ; so that in a short time 
the most swift and active horses become weak and stupid and 
good for nothing : hence there is a constant necessity of getting 
new horses. They give them roasted barley and grain dressed 
in butter, with boiled cow's milk." In the time of Marco 
Polo the same author says the merchants from the isle of 
Kais, in the Persian Gulf, and other places, exported annually 
10,000 horses to Mabar and other ports in the vicinity, at the 
price of 220 dinars of red gold for each horse, equal to 100 
marks of silver. 

" The sheep's head is said to be peculiar to the Deccan ; but 
ghee is given by natives to their horses all over India."^ The 
Arabs are also said to occasionally feed their mares with flesh. 

Edentata, — The scaly ant-eater, {Manis pentadactyla,) called 
** caballaya " by the Sinhalese, and also known by the Malay 
name of pengolin, is a very harmless and useful animal, living 
on white ants. They are nocturnal in their habits, sleeping all 
day rolled up like a ball, with the head between their fore legs 
and the long tail folded over all ; tliis is also an attitude they 

» CoL Yule*8 Polo, ii. 388 ; Elliot, i. 69, iii. 84. 


assume in self defence when attacked by dogs, who can 
make nothing of them. Their frames are exceedingly power- 
ful, and when rolled up in this way, it requires a consider- 
able degree of force to uncoil them, which they resent by 

They have one or two young, and live in pairs in the earth, 
into which they can bun'ow with great rapidity, digging out the 
soil with their powerful fore claws, which are always doubled 
under the feet when moving about, so that they appear to walk 
on their knuckles ; several observers of their habits say they 
cannot climb trees, which has been stated by others.^ They 
are covered on the back with pale brown triangular homy 
scales, and are about two feet long ; they have no teeth, and 
lap water like a dog. There is a very good account of them 
in the J. A. S. Beng., 1842, p. 221. 

Pachydermata. — Wild boars. — It has been doubted if the 
animal found in Ceylon, ** waloora " of the natives, is identical 
with that of India {Sus Indicus). A skull sent to Mr. Bl3i;h 
presented some peculiarities differing from the Indian species, 
being distinguished by a straighter profile and greater lengtli 
of head, resembling the Borneo S, barbatus of Miiller and 
Temminck, and if all their skulls were the same, would entitle 
it to rank as a distinct species ; or it may be the same as that 
foimd in the Nilgris (5. affinis^). 

Wild pigs abound in tlie dense jungles of many parts 
of the island, and were very numerous about Newera-Ellia. 
It is very diflScult to get near or catch them, though they 
are sometimes taken in pitfalls by the natives, and hunted by 
the Europeans with dogs ; many of these animals are gored in 
encoimters with them, the Ceylon wild boar being a very large, 
fierce and dangerous brute when brought to bay, always 
choosing a dense underwood to make a stand in. One killed 
by Sir S. Baker weighed four hundredweight. Their hair is a 
tawny brown colour, and they are subject to mm*rain ; great num- 
bers of them died in 1868 from this cause.*^ 

» CoL Sykes, J. A. S. Beng., 1832, Tennent. 
3 Blyth'in Kelaart, J. A. S. Beng. 18«0, p. 105. 
* Blue Books, 1864, v., xi. 


Elepluints. — Asiatics say the last word never can be said 
about an elephant, which is some encouragement to a person 
writing on so exhausted a subject. 

When the British obtained possession of Ceylon, the number 
of these animals in the jungles was extraordinar}% 150 could be 
easily captured in a single kraal, and the rice crops in many parts 
of the island were so damaged by them that the Government 
paid a reward to the natives for ever}' one they killed.^ This 
stimulus to destruction, together with the w holesale and wanton 
slaughter by sportsmen, has reduced their nmnbers to such an 
extent that there is now said to be a difficulty in obtaining suffi- 
cient for the public works, and an order has been recently 
issued by the Governor prohibiting the granting of licences to 
shoot or capture them. Many other wild animals and birds 
ai'e becoming scarce from the same cause. 

Beyond those employed by the Government on public works 
no use is made of them in the island, but numbers are exported 
to India, where they are used in carrying stores and baggage 
for troops and other purposes ; the trade is in the hands of the 
Moors, who catch and convey them to the Peninsula, where 
they are sold to other dealers. Tlie price varies considerably, 
being more in demand in time of war, when they are wortli 
from £20 to Jt*36. In 1862^ the average value was from 
£9 13s. to £16 18s. 8d., and the number exported, 326, valued 
at £3150. During the Indian mutiny Ceylon was imable to 
meet the demand for them, 1,034 being imported to the 
Peninsula from Eangoon and Moulmein from 1858 to 1859. 
Le Brmi says during the Dutch occupation they were worth 
2,000 rix doUars (£150). 

Formerly when elephants were employed in war those of 
Ceylon wei'e highly esteemed for this purpose, being considered 
from their size, sagacity, and courage superior to tliose of 
India, and commanded a very high price, considering the 
relative value of money, being worth, we are told by Cosmas, 
from 50 to 100 pieces of gold according to their height, or 

> The reward was claimed for 8500 killed in the North iu 1846-47-48, and for 
2000 killed iu the South from 1851 to 1856.— Tenueut. 
2 Reports, 1864, xxxvii* ; Blyth, J. A. S. Beng., 1862, p. 171. 


about from iE25 to iE50. Megasthenes, in the earliest notice we 
have of the island, mentions their superiority, which is repeated 
by all ancient writers, and it came to be considered the " mother 
of elephants," and unrivalled for these animals. 

The quantity of ivory obtained in the island is small. Very 
few Ceylon elephants have tusks, some say only one in a 
hundred have them, others one in three hundred, and then 
only the males ; but most of them have shoii substitutes, called 
" tushes " by the Sinhalese, which are of no value. The pro- 
portion of tuskers in a herd is less than formerly, from their 
being selected for destruction on account of their ivory. 
Ceylon tusks seldom weigh more than 50 or 60 lbs., and are 
cui-ved. Those from Africa are straighter and much larger, 
commonly weighing 150 lbs., and some are said to have weighed 
300 lbs., ^ which seems doubtful. A pair of tusks from Tra- 
vancore were exhibited at the Madras exhibition, weighing 
170 lbs., which was considered an unusual size for Indian 
tusks. 180 tons of ivory are said to be annually used in 
Sheffield for cutlery, which would require the slaughter of 
3,600 tuskers. At this rate it is a wonder they have not been 
exterminated long since. Livingstone estimated that 30,000 
elephants were killed annually in Africa, the greater part of 
their tusks being exported from the eastern coast along with 
those of the hippopotamus. Great numbers of fossil tusks are 
dug up in Siberia. Tusks of elephants in India are stated to 
be often eaten away at the roots by parasitic insects.^ 

Ceylon elephants are smaller than the African, their height 
ranging from seven to nine feet over the shoulder, but occa- 
sionally one taller is found. The Sinhalese say they can teU 
the height of an elephant from its foot -print, being, accord- 
ing to their calculation, six times the diameter, w^hich for an 
elephant nine feet high would be 18 inches. Albinos are rare 
among these animals, and consequently highly prized by 
Asiatics. Some of theii* iiilers are fond of calling themselves 
" Lord of the white elephant," to enhance their importance. 
Elephants with pale, flesh-coloured blotches about the head 

^ Tennent. ' J. Ento. Soc., 1871. 


are not uncommon. Horace mentions that a white elephant 
was exhibited at Rome in his time/ and the Mahawanso speaks 
of one at Anuradhapura in the fifth century B.C. Mr. Boyd 
states that there were two at Kandy in 1782. Csesar 
Frederick, in 1563, says "the King of Pegu had four, the 
rarest thing in the world,'* and Nicolo di Conti, a century 
previous, speaks of one belonging to the King of Birmah, round 
whose neck was a gold chain that reached the ground. 

Elephants live to a great age, but the exact period does not 
appear to have been ascertained. Seventy years is stated to 
be the probable duration of their lives. Strabo quotes Mega- 
sthenes, as saying they lived three hundred years, and ** the 
Sinhalese say the same, and that a dead elephant is never 
seen, as they retire to hidden places to die somewhere about 
Adam's Peak,"^ which appears to be an Eastern legend, as it is 
found in Kazwini, from which Sinbad's account of ** the 
burial place of the elephants " is taken, described by this 
romancer as an out-of-the-way place in Serendib, where the 
ground was covered with their bones and tusks.^ It has been 
ascertained at the birth of a young Indian elephant in the 
Zoological Gardens, London, that tlie period of gestation for 
this species is 593 da^^s, or nearl}' one year and three quarters.* 

It is strange that the derivation of the name of this animal 
in most European languages has not been satisfactorily ex- 
plained. It has no resemblance to the Sanskrit hasti, or any- 
other Indian name, imless it be a corruption of the Malayan 
and Telengu Ani, which is also the modern Tamil name. " The 
Sinhalese alia, or alliah, meaning huge or great, is said to be 
from a more ancient dialect than either Sanskrit or Pali."^ 

According to D'Alwis, the natives say elephants exude an 
odour of honey from an orifice in their temples, not larger than 
a pin-hole, which accounts for bees hovering about their 
heads.® Cmiously enough the same statement appears in 
Strabo (xv. 705), who speaks of an oily secretion exuding 
from it, which seems to be only a fancy as no European has 

» Horace, Epist. i. 196. lib. ii. « Tennent. ^ Lane's **Sinbad," iii. 74, 77, 81. 
* Owen, "Anatomy," iii. 42. * Tennent, Nat. Hist Gey., p. 77. 

• "Sidath, Sangaro," ccxiv. 


ever detected this orifice, nor do bees appear to follow them 
more than flies, a great torment to elephants, who are constantly 
employed, both when wild and in captivity, keeping them off 
with a leafy branch held in their tnmk. 

Elephants are very fond of cool and shady jungles, especially 
during the heat of the day, and are only found in open places in 
the morning, which is a habit of most wild animals in tropical 
climates. From the number of elephants formerly found 
about Newera EUia, which appears to have been their piincipal 
resort, it is evident they are not so fond of heat as people 
would imagine from their being natives of tropical climates. 
Dr. Davy, who passed through Newera EUia in 1819, found it 
full of them, and observes that geologists should not attach 
too much importance to the fact of elephants' bones being 
found in cold parts of the world (p. 459). 

That so heavy and apparently awkward an animal should be 
able to ascend the steep mountains about Newera Ellia, where 
the path is difl&cult of ascent to a pedestrian, may surprise 
many pereons who are unacquainted with their habits, but this 
facility in ascending, and more particularly in descending 
acclivities, can be accounted for in the peculiar formation of 
tlieir hind legs, the joints bending inwards instead of outwards 
as in other quadrupeds, which enables them to kneel on them, 
and thus slide do^^^l, the fore legs being kept straight out. A 
drawing of an elephant in this position, with its anatomy 
delineated, is given in the "J. A. S. Bengal" for 1844, p. 918. 
Sir Thomas Roe, who was sent by James I. as Ambassador to 
India, relates seeing there an elephant ** that could climb up 
rocks, and pass such straits that no horse or other beast could 

Elephants in their normal condition are gregarious, forming 
herds of various numbers up to a himdred or more, migrating 
from one place to another at particular seasons, and in 
this state are singularly imobtnisive and retiring in their 
natures ; a person may live for a year in the vicinity of a jungle 
frequented by them in numbers, and constantly wander through 

1 Churchill, ColL Voy., il 790. 


it in search of small game without ever seeing or even heaiing 
one, although he may be sure from their foot- prints, broken 
branches of trees, crushed underwood, and other signs fre- 
quently met with, that they are not very far off. Their disposition 
generally is to escape from observation as noiselessly as pos- 
sible, and retire — at the appearance of a white man especially — 
into the deepest parts of the forests. Their sight is defective, 
but they are endowed with a remarkable power of smell, which 
enables them to detect the approach of a person long before 
he can be heard ; they are not easil}^ surprised, and they rush 
off with the timidity of a hare, crashing through the under- 
wood with great noise and force until they are out of sight. 
If danger is detected at a distance, they stand with ears 
thrown forward, and elevated trunk pointed in the direction it 
is perceived, snuffing the air until its nature is ascertained. 

Rogn^ Elephants. — This name, applied by the Europeans to 
a certain class of elephants, is a literal translation of the 
Sinhalese " Hora-alliah," or thieving elephant, so named from 
their mischievous propensities. From some cause that has not 
yet been satisfactorily explained even to the natives, several 
of the males in a herd separate themselves from it, and become 
outcasts, wandering abottt singly, not even associating with 
other rogues, changing their otherwise naturally harmless 
character into one of extreme viciousness, seemingly bent on 
doing all the mischief in their power, and having overcome 
their fear of man by the first homicide, it becomes a favourite 
amusement with them, spending their whole time cunningly 
waylaying people and killing them. With this design, they 
hide themselves close to roads and foot-paths through jimgles, 
pouncing on some unlucky passer-by, and occasionally inter- 
mpt the communication. On one occasion the " Post " from 
Colombo to Newera ElUa, and a convoy of bullock carts with 
commissariat stores, was delayed at Rambodde for more than 
a week by one, the natives being afraid to pass while he was 
in the neighbourhood. Few yeai^s passed without four or five 
persons being killed by rogues {vide ch. xxvi. p. 190), and 
nearly all the damage to crops is committed by them; it 
being a very remarkable fact that a very slight fence will keep 


out other elephants, who usually display unwillingness to break 
through any artificial obstruction placed in their way. 

Elephant slwoting. — Some years since this was an exciting, 
dangerous, and useful sport when a rogue elephant was to be 
encountered, and required a considerable amount of cool 
courage, but the wholesale slaughter of herds of harmless 
animals is at all times an ignoble business, no use can be m^de 
of them, and their unburied carcases defile the air. The small- 
bore rifles then used by sportsmen at times failed to penetrate 
the animal's skull, which placed the shooter's life in jeopardy ; 
but now they use four-ounce balls, and large charges of power- 
ful powder sufficient to crush the head of a mammoth, and the 
danger of encountering them is almost nil. Sportsmen are 
usually accompanied by several natives carrying loaded guns to 
hand to them in the event of the first shots failing, and it is 
usual to wait until the animals are quite close before firing. 
Most parts of an elephant's skull are formed of light honey- 
comb bone, easily penetrated, but some spots are weaker than 
others, immediately above the trunk and behind the ear are 
considered the most fatal places. 

When a herd is surrounded and brought to bay by native 
beaters employed in these excursions, they never rush forward 
in a body as buflfaloes do, but one or two more bold than 
the others charge their pursuers and are shot, then others 
do the same ; in this way numbers of a herd can be killed 
in detail, before they break through the cordon surrounding 
them. As a general rule they are excessively timid, it is only 
when wounded that they become infuriated and savage in their 
assaults, having great power of enduring pain ; however, an 
agile sportsman can generally manage to escape unhurt behind 
trees in a dense jungle, but in open rough ground a man has 
not much chance of escape if his shots fail, as an elephant can 
run much faster. When they do get enemies in their power 
they trample them imder their feet, crush them by kneeling on 
them, or knock them about with their trunks, sometimes 
throwing them up in the air ; but they do not use their tusks 
as a weapon of offence as often supposed, in fact the tusks, to 
the few who have them, appear to be of little use. 


That elephant shooting is not a very dangerous sport is 
proved by the fact of one officer having killed, it is said, 1200, 
and some others nearly as many, with a loss of only three 
sportsmen killed and two injured, the three killed being by 
rogues. Sir S. Baker says, " no animals are more misunder- 
stood, being savage, waiy, revengeful, and courageous." This 
remark may apply to a rogue, a wounded animal, or to the 
males during the fits of madness they are subject to in 
captivity, at pai-ticular seasons of the year, when it is danger- 
ous for even their keepers to go near them ; but it certainly 
does not apply to them generally speaking. Linschoten men- 
tions an incident that occurred at Goa, which shows that 
even a mad elephant can display gi'atitude for kindness shown 
to it. " This animal had got loose in the market-place at Goa, 
where it was destroying all before it, but recognising among 
the terrified crowd the child of a woman who had been in the 
habit of feeding him when passing her shop, he took it up in 
his trunk and carried it home in safety " Q). 87). 

Elephants as executioners. — These animals appear to have 
been long employed in this capacity both in Ceylon and India. 
Ibn Batuta mentions seeing them in the peninsula with sword 
blades, or some similar weapon, attached to their tusks for 
the execution of persons condemned to death; and Knox says 
they were employed by Singha II. The executioner of the 
last king of Kandy fell into the hands of the English along with 
other spoil, and was sent to Colombo, where he was employed in 
carrying and stacking timber at the government stores. It is 
said when victims w^ere brought to the elephant, who was 
trained for the pui'pose, at the word of command from his 
koniac he seized them in his tnnik, and placing them imder 
his foot, held them down fiimly while their limbs were torn off 
in succession by his trunk ; another method was to crush 
them to death at once. 

Elepliant catching, — A large number of elephants are em- 
ployed by the Government on public works, who ai'e captured 
in periodical hunts, organised on a grand scale ; a very inte- 
resting sight, attracting to the scene every European in the 
island who can manage to attend. A herd is surroimded by 


large parties of natives and driven into a strongly fenced in** 
closure formed in the jungle among the trees, having a funnel- 
shaped opening which is closed when they are inside. The 
captured animals are then noosed by the legs with the assist-? 
ance of female elephants, who are trained for the purpose. 
Some years since these kraals, as they are called, were of fre- 
quent occurrence, but latterly they are rare, if not altogether 
abandoned. There was one on the occasion of the visit of His 
Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. Elephants do not 
live long in captivity, and are expensive to keep, costing in 
food from 3«. 6d. to 4«.^ per diem, and as the establishment con- 
nected with them is rather costly, it is a doubtful matter if the 
money would not be better laid out on other animals. Ele- 
phants appear to be very unwilling to exert their full strength, 
in fact, they cannot be got to do so ; when urged beyond their 
inclinations they become restive, roar out, and show very 
plainly they will not be diiven. It is common to see two of 
them side by side in a four-wheeled waggon, with a load not 
greater than could be drawn by two powerful dray horses. 

The Moors catch them in a different manner, and nothing 
shows more completely the power of man over the brute crea- 
tion than the facility with which a party of these men, with 
only a few ropes made of deer or buffalo hide, having nooses 
at one end, manage it. Elephants having, as has been re- 
marked, delicate organs of smell, it is necessary, in order to 
get near them, to work against the wind, the trappers there- 
fore first find out which way it blows ; this being ascertained, 
they stealthily follow up an elephant's track in the jungle, 
crawling through the underwood until one of the men gets an 
opportunity to slip a noose over one of the animal's hind legs, 
their habit of constantly swinging one leg backwards and for- 
wards greatly assisting the operation; this being accom- 
pUshed, another man makes the rope fast to a tree as the 
elephant is making off, while others face him and distract his 
attention until more nooses are fixed on his legs, and he is 

* Tennent, Nat Hist In tlio P. Z. S., 1863, there is a strange account of a 
manner of captnring elephants in Gaboon, Africa, by stupefying them with, 



thoroughly secured, when he is left to exhaust himself with 
impotent rage, bellowing and straining every nerve to get free, 
until he is quiet enough to allow of his being removed, when 
he is partly driven and partly enticed along imtil the coast ia 
reached at Manaar, where they are shipped for India. A little 
kind treatment in the way of food speedily reconciles h\m to 
his captors, there being no wild animal so easily tamed as an 
elephant. Considerable difficulty is often experienced in 
getting them on board the dhoneys which convey them to 
India, but they stand the sea very well. 

Elephants are supposed to be very cautious in ascertaining 
whether a place will bear their weight before' they pass over — 
a male elephant ten feet high weighing about three tons ; but 
this seems to be only an idea, judging from the number of 
wooden bridges broken down by them in the island, and the 
swampy places about tanks the}*^ frequent in search of water ; 
besides they are said to have been formerly caught in a kind 
of pitfall, on the top of which a running noose was concealed, 
the other end being fastened to a tree, the animal's foot when 
sinking causing the noose to run up the leg.^ They are also 
taken in common pit-falls in some parts of India,^ and South 

The stomach of an elephant is rather peculiar in its forma- 
tion, being very long, with a number of folds at one end, 
and as they can di'aw water from their stomachs with their 
trunks, Sir E. Tennent has suggested that this peculiarity 
of formation is something similar to the water-sack of a camel, 
and expected Professor Owen's dissection of a yoimg elephant 
which was sent from Ceylon would verify his supposition. 
But on referring to Professor Owen's "Anatomy of Verte- 
brates" (Ed. 1868), there does not appear to be any allusion 
to it, although he has described the "water-cells" of the 
camel and llama. 

There is also an account by Dr. Crisp in the " Lancet,'* 
1854, of the viscera of an elephant which died in England, 
and in the " P. Z. S.," 1859, of a female in the Zoological 
Oardens, which died, it is supposed, of fright from a thunder- 

1 Tennent, Nat. Hut > J. A. S. Beng. 1848. 


storm. She weighed 5,225 lbs. Elephants have no gall bladder, 
the hepatic duct being wide and long, similar to some giraffes. 

EuMiNANTiA. — Deer. — Except the elk these are not often 
fomid in dense jungles, where there is little food for them, 
but frequent in large herds the open places on the eastern coasts. 
They are also very numerous about Hambantota, on the wide 
plains of white sand and low brush-wood of the south-east. 

The musk-deer, " wal-mooha " of the natives {Moschus me' 
minna), is a charming little creature about two feet long and 
ten inches high ; it has the long tooth curving downwards 
outside the lip from the upper jaw like the musk-deer of 
Thibet, but has no musk-bag, and is much smaller. 
Their usual colour is a brown-grey, and albinos are not rare. 
Captain Fercival mentions that five were found at Kandy in 

The mimtjac or barking deer {Stylocerus muntjac) is a very 
common species, about two feet and ,a half high; "hoola- 
mooha " of the natives, also the spotted deer, *' tee-mooka " 
(Axis maculata), very like the fallow deer of England in size 
and shape. Albinos are frequently found among them. 

The paddy field deer, ** weel-mooha " {Axis Orizus), allied to 
the porcine deer of India, is supposed to be a distinct species 
and peculiar to Ceylon. They are small and active, of a light 
fawn colour, with two parallel lines of white spots along the 
back. Some were sent to the Zoological Gardens, London.^ 

The elk, " gona-russa " of the Sinhalese, is very abundant 
about Newera Ellia and other high moimtains. A nocturnal 
animal, spending the day in deep forests, it begins to wander 
at sunset into open places ; they are fond of ravines and moun- 
tain torrents, in which they take refuge when piu^ued by dogs, 
and do not afford much sport from their habit of getting into 
water as soon as they can. Their flesh is not much better 
than bad beef. 

The elk is a large animal four feet high, of a dark muddy- 
brown colour, with a coarse mane six inches long, and large 
heavy antlers ; the body is nearly five feet long. Dr. Gray * 
makes the Russa of Ceylon and India a distinct species from 

* J. A. 8. Beng., 1851, p. 217. » Ann. Nat. Hist., 1852. 


that of Java and Sumatra, and identical with the great Axis of ^ 
Cuvier. According to some, the Ceylon elk is a variety of 
the Samner of India. 

Buffaloes, *'mee-harak'* of the natives, are heavy-looking 
animals found wild in large herds on open grass, swamps, and' 
about tanks, chiefly in the north-eastern and hottest parts of 

the island. During the heat of the day they bury themselves 
in mud or pools of water, nothing but the head being visible. 
They are animals of immense bone, strength, and activity, 
usually of a muddy-brown colour, but occasionally an albino is 
seen with a pink iris. There is very little hair on their hides, 
which have a shining appearance, and not unlike India- 
rubber. They are high over the shoulders, and broad and flat 
on the haimches ; the nose is fine and the head surmounted 
with long heavy corrugated horns bending backwards. They 
carry their heads in a peculiar manner, the upper part being 
thrown back, with the nose in a line with the shoulder. 

WTien a herd is disturbed and they apprehend danger, they 
draw up in line with a few of the oldest in front, and after 
gazing silently at the enemy for some time, suddenly retire or 
advance at fiill speed, and are considered by sportsmen,^j from 
their uncertain and furious temper when roused, as a very 
dangerous animal to encoimter, particularly as they can receive 
several balls of ordinary size in the chest without flinching. 
Behind the shoulder is their most vital part. There are as 
many natives killed by bufialoes as by any other wild animal. 
Their flesh is very bad, but they give more milk than native 
cows. Niunbers of tame ones are employed by the natives in 
agricultiu'e — treading-out grain and ploughing paddy fields, for 
which purpose they are admirably suited, from the peculiar 
formation of the bones of their feet, which are large and spread- 
ing, enabling them to walk over the soft mud of paddy fields, 
when other animals of their size and weight would sink too 
far. The reindeer of the north of Europe has a similar forma- 

* Baker, ** Rifle and Hound." In a Burmese version of the "Niti-kyan," 
buffaloes are said to delight in mud ; the henza (goose) in beautiful lakes ; 
women in the society of men ; and priests in the words of truth. — J. R. A. S., 
voL xvii. p. 254. 


tion of foot, which enables them to move over deep snow.^ 
Buflfaloes are also trained for wild fowl shooting. (Vide 
ch. XXV.) 

Oxen. — All the species in the island are of Indian origin. 
A variety of the Indian bullock (Bos indicus), called *' harakah " 
by the Sinhalese, is the common beast of burden on the roads. 
These cattle, although imknown as an aboriginal species, are 
said to relapse into a wild state both in Ceylon and India.^ 
They are very pretty, smooth-skinned little animals, with a 
hump on the shoulder, deep dew-lap, slender deer-like limbs, 
and not taller tlian a pony. They are of two colours — the 
deep red, which are the most numerous, and the black, a higher- 
bred animal. They generally draw two-wheeled carts in pairs, 
a cross-bar at the end of a pole resting on their necks in front 
of the hump which keeps it in its place ; it is an imlucky bump 
for the poor animals, who are most barbarously overworked in 
consequence. A rope passing through holes in the bar goes 
under the bullock's neck, and prevents it from rising up. The 
carts are generally covered with a thatch of cocoa-nut leaves. 

These bullocks are very strong and energetic for their small 
size, and draw a load of from 12 to 15 cwt. twenty miles a day, 
according to the road. In parts of the island where there are 
only bridle-paths, they carry loads on their backs on pack 
saddles, and are principally used in this way by the Moors, who 
carr}^ on an inhmd traffic with hamlets and villages, travelling 
in small parties called " talavans.*' Bullocks are much afraid 
of panthers, whom they can perceive a long way oflf, when they 
become immanageable and subject to panic. Murrain makes 
great havoc amongst them, in some years killing them whole- 
sale. In 1800 half the animals in the island are reported to 
have died.' 

Since the extension of cofifee planting the ordinary bullocks 
have proved qiiite inadequate to convey the produce of the 
estates to the coast, which has led to the importation of larger 
animals from India who can draw from 20 to 85 cwt.^ Some 
years since the Government tried to introduce camels, but 

> Owen, "On Limbs," p. 34. » J. A, S. Beng., 1860, p. 288. 

* Cordiner's Ceylon. ^Reports, 1868, xxxiii 


they all died from sore feet cansed by flies. A few white 
Brahmin bulls and oxen are nsed singly between shafts in light 
two-wheeled covered carts (called hackeries) by richer natives 
for driving about, and are similar to the Indian conveyance. 

The Bos gaurus, or gaur, so abundant in Southern India, is 
extinct in Ceylon. Kandyan tradition^ says they formerly 
roamed through the forests of the districts named to the present 
day Goura-Ellia and Goura-Koodie. Knox describes one which 
was kept among the king's creatures at Kandy, and some old 
natives state another has been seen in the jungles during the 
present generation. 

Cetacea. — The strange amphibious animal of the whale 
family called the dugong or mermaid {Halicore dtigong), 
whose partial resemblance to the human form when swimming, 
caused by their habit of keeping their heads at tunes above 
water, has doubtless given rise to the ancient belief in mer- 
maids, sea tritons, nereids, and sirens, who lured sailors to 
their destruction by their voices ; in all probabihty first circu- 
lated by Greek and Arabian navigators in eastern seas. Cuvier 
remarks they have no real resemblance to human beings, which 
is evident. The female is said to carry her young with her in 
the sea, keeping its head above water. The Sinhalese call 
them ** moodo-oora," and the Malays duyong, changed into 
dugong by the naturalists. Mr. Holdsworth, P. Z. S., 1872, 
referring to the dugong, says ** this creature as figured in Sir 
E. Tennent's Natural History, has never been observed by my- 
self or anyone I have been able to meet with." The draw- 
ing is obviously incorrect. 

The head and shoulders resemble those of a seal, and has 
two fore limbs or arms ending in fin-like paws, the rest of the 
body is like a whale, and about seven feet long. They are 
sometimes eaten, and said by Baldseus, who calls them sea- 
calves, to resemble veal; while Crawfiird states the Malay 
dugong is superior to green turtle ; their oil has been recently 
highly recommended as a substitute for cod liver oil. They 
are very numerous on the north-western coasts about Aripo and 
Manaar, living on sea-weed and other marine produce. The 

^ Eelaart, p. 87. 


existence of these creatures was not unknown to the most 
ancient writers on Ceylon — ^Megasthenes, Onesicrites, Strabo, 
and ^lian, who speak of sea animals half fish having heads 
like women and satyrs. 

Sir E. Tennent produces a number of curious statements 
from authors showmg the extent that imagination has run riot 
on this subject as late as the eighteenth century. Yalentyn 
says a mermaid was taken in a storm on the coast of Holland 
in 1404 and conveyed to Haarlem, where she was taught to 
spin, and died a Christian ! To these may be added the state- 
ment of Dalechamp in his notes to Pliny (ix.), who says a mer- 
maid was captured in Poland, 1581, like a bishop! 

Delphinus, — Three species of true dolphin which resemble 
small whales are occasionally caught off Colombo. They have 
long jaws with many teeth, and a blow-hole through which 
they make a plaintive noise when dying, and change when taken 
from the water to a fine gold and pink colour. Their flesh is 
said to be made into the dried fish called kummelmus in the 
Maldives, and are often confounded with the CorypJiana hip* 
purus, named hippnnis by Aristotle, on account of its mane- 
like dorsal fin. 

Many fabulous statements have been made about the dolphin. 
Pliny represents it as '' an animal friendly to man and fond 
of children and music." The same stories are found in Plu- 
tarch, Aristotle's ** History of Animals," and ^lian. It is not 
quite clear whether the ancients in their descriptions were 
referring to the true dolphin or the Coryphcena hippurm, also 
called a dolphin. The latter terra appears to be derived from 
doliy or daphin, a name used by Barbot in the seventeenth 
century. The Portuguese had previously called them dorades, 
confounding them with the Chrysophrys or gilt-head. 

Phoccena. — Porpoises are also occasionally caught by fisher- 
men on the coast ; great shoals of them are seen at sea leaping 
out and into the water as if running a hurdle race, which is 
considered a sign of bad weather by seamen. 

Wliales, — Sperm whales {Physeter macrocephalus) are not un- 
common on the eastern side of the island, and other species 
are occasionally stranded on the southern and western coasts. 



They appear to have been much more numerous in the Indian 
seas some centuries since. * 

E. W. Holdsworth, F.Z.S., describes a new Cetacean seen 
by him off the coast at Chilaw during a cahn, being attracted to 
it by a blowing sound, as it pai'tly rose above the water; it 
appeared to be about 26 feet long, having a round back and a 
remarkable dorsal fin 5 feet high shaped like a sword-blade. 
He was informed by the native fishermen that it had been seen 
before, and also off Cape Comorin, and was known as the 
Palmyra fish, and that they were very pugnacious — running at 
each other like sheep. It has some resemblance to the Orca 
EscJmichtii of the Faroe Islands, obsen^ed by Steenstrup 
(P.Z.S. 1872, 688). 

List of Mammalia. 

* Peculiar to Ceylon. 


Prcsbytes cephalopterus, Zim. 
' ♦iirsinus, Blyth* 
Priamus, Elliot, 
♦Thersites, BlyUi, 
Hacacas pileatus, Shaw, 
Loris gracilis, Geoff. ^ var. 
Nycticibus Ceylonicus, Qeoff, 


Pteropns Edwardsii, Geoff, 

Leschenaultii, Bum, 
Cynopterus marginatos, Cuv., margin 

and red-eared bat. 
■Hegadorma spasma, Linn,, large eared 
bat, has three nasal leaflets, 
lyra, Geoff,, J. A. S. Beng., xiii. 
Eliinolophus aflfinis, Hi/rsf, 

murinns, EUiot, 
Hipposideros murinus, Elliot, 
fulvns, Blyth, 
speoris, EUi<4. 

+ New Species. 

Hipposideros annigcr, Hodgs. 
insigna, Waterhoitsc, 
vulgaris, Horsf. 
Kerivoula picta. Gray. 
Taphozous longimanus, Hardw. 
Scotophihis Coromandelicus, Our., a 
yar. S. niinuta, Teniminck, has 
been found in Africa, P. Z. S., 
Vespei-tilio advcrsus, Horsf, 
Nycticejus Tcmminckii, Horsf. 
Tickclli, Blyth, 

Heathii, H<yrsf, P. Z. S., 1831 » 
p. 113. 


Sorex coemlescens, Shaw, 

indicus, (jeo/., J. A. S. Beng., xvi. 

serpentarius, Geoff., Kelaart's Si. 

Kandianus, J. A. S. Beng., xvii., 

also found in Birmah, J. A. 

S. B., 1855, p. 80. 

*Montanu8, Keia, There is also a 



black shrew in Nepal. Vide 
femigincQs, Kda., a reddish shrew, 

doubtful if peculiar. 
*feroculus, Kda,, allied to S. pyg- 
mseus, Hodg.f of Nepal, J. A. S. 
Beng., 1855. 
Prochilus labiatus, Blain. 

Lutra nair, Cuv, The Indian otter, 

deey bella of the Sinhalese. 
Canis aureus, Linn, 
Viverricula maloccensis, Gray, 
Paradoxurus ty})us, Cuv, 

*Ceylonicus, Pa//., F. aureus, Cuv. 
Herpestes griseus, Dt&m, 

vitticollis, Bcnn.f Tseniogale yit- 
ticoUis of Gray, P. Z. S„ 1864. 
Onychogale Maccarthii, Oray, P. Z.S., 
1851, 1864. H. flaveus, Kda, 
of Tennent*s list 
Calictes Smithii, Gray, H. Smithii, 
Gray, of Tennent'slist, P. Z. S., 
Fclis pardus, Linn, 
viverrinus, Benn, 
aflSms, Gray, Chaux, £lyth» 
mbiginosa, Ge4>J', 
var. similar to F. Jerdonii, Bly. 


Macroxus macmrus, Gray, Sicuros ma- 
crurus, Farat. of Tennent*s list. 

trar. S. macrurus, Blyth, end of 
tail white, J. A. S. Beng., xviiL 
600, Gray, Ann. N. H., 1867. 
Tar. S. Tenncntii, Kela, Gray, 
Ann. N. H. 1867, J. A. S. Beng., 
1851, p. 165. 
tMacroxus vittatus, Baffles^ added by 
Dr. Gray, Ann. N. H. 1867, 
p. 278. 

tpalmarum. Gray, S. palmamm, 
Horsf,, oVyb black, three pale 
streaks on the side, white below. 

fyar. S. Kelaartii of Layard with 
uniform fur and shining stripe, 
under parts reddish. Gray, Aim. 
ISi, H., 1867. 

Macroxus penicillatus, Gray, S. trili- 
neatns, Kelaart's list. S. Bro* 
deii, Layard Ann. N. H., 1852, 
ix. ; dark olive fur on back 
and^sides, three pale streaks, 
middle of back black, head red- 
dish, chin, chest, and imder- 
parts white. 
Layardii, Gray, S. Layardii of 
Kelaart and Blyth ; tail black 
annulated with wldte, chin and 
imderpart reddish, 
sublineatus, Gray, S. sublineatua 
of Watcrhouse. There are six 
or seven var. 
Sciuropterus Layardii, Ktla, 
Pteromys petauristo. Pall, 
Mus bandicota, Becht. 
rattus, Linn, 
decumanus. Pall, 
manel, Gray, The Indian mouse, 

cossetta mcyo of the Sinhalese, 
rufesccns. Gray, 
nemoralis, Blyth, J. A. S. Beng. 

XX. 168. 
*Ceylonicu8, KeUu 
*fulvidiventris, Blyth, 
Nesokia Indica, Geoff, 
*Golunda Ncwera, Kcla, 

Elliotii, Gray. Mus hirsutus. El* 
liot, M. coffseus, Kela, 
Gerbillus Indicus, Hardw, 
Lepus nigiicollis, Cuv, J. A. S. Beng.,. 

Hystrix leucurus, Sykcs, J. A. S.. 
Beng., 1851, p. 153. 

Manis pentadactyla, Linn. 


Elephas Indicus, Linn, 
Qua Indicus, Gray, 


Moschus meminna, Krxl, 



Stylooerus mnntjac, Horsf, 
Axis maculata, SmitK 

*oryzus, Kda. 
Russa Ari&totelu» Cwo. 
Bubalus boffelus, Oray, 
Bos Indicus, Lirm, (var. of zebn). 

Halicoro dugong, Ctw, 

Delphinus yeloz, Ihu$. 



Vid€ Blytb on Ceylon, '^Hanmuu 
lia," J. A. a Beng., 1851, 1852, and 
Cantor on that of Malay, 184^ 



About 880 species have been identified, most of them by 
Mr. Bl3rth, from specimens sent to him from the island by Drs. 
Templeton and Kelaart, and Messrs. Brodie and E. L. Layard, 
O.C.S. ; " to the latter much praise is due for discovering so 
large a number of birds previously unknown to the fauna of 
the island, nearly all in his Ust having faUen by his own gun.''i 
Mr. Blytk's descriptions are given in different numbers of 
the J. A. S. of Bengal, from 1846 to 1857. The numbers for 
1850 contain a general account of Indian and Ceylon orni- 
thology, and those for 1851 a particular description of remark- 
able Ceylon birds. Mr. Layard's accounts will be found in 
the " Annals of Natural History," ending 1854. 

Great as the above number may appear, they are only 
one-third of the birds of India, for although there are about 80 
of the feathered tribe enumerated supposed to be peculiar to 
Ceylon, there is a much greater number of Indian birds un- 
known in the isknd. Among the Indian birds wanting in 
Ceylon are vultures, several species of eagles, buzzards, and 
other birds of prey, both diurnal and nocturnal falcons, owls, 
and caprimulgida, many warblers, fly-catchers, and smaller 
birds, Troglodytinaf CaUiope, Turdida, Luscinia, and RuticiUa. 
On the other hand, most of the birds peculiar to Ceylon are 
represented in the Peninsula by very similar or allied species. 
Seven or eight of those entered in Sir E. Tennent's list as 
peculiar have been since found in Southern India and other 
places, and thirty-three new to the island have been discovered, 

^ Kelaart, FaiL Zey. p. 93 ; between 7000 and 8000 species of birds from til 
parts of the world have been described by naturalists. 


which are included in the above number. About twenty are 
so seldom seen they can hardly be considered as belonging to 
the island, being occasional stragglers from India. Most of 
those peculiar to Ceylon are only found in the hills. 

A valuable " Catalogue of Ceylon Birds *' was published in 
the P.Z.S. for 1872, by E. W. Holdsworth, F.Z.S., who spent 
some years in the island, and made a collection, the majority 
of those discovered since Layard's list being added by him. 
He has altered the names of a good many of those previously 
known, having been, he says, wrongly identified, and makes 
the total number 325 ; among those he omits is the large horn- 
bill (Buceros pica), probably from some oversight, as they were 
numerous in the island. 

The majority of the birds found in Ceylon belong to India^ 
some to Birmah, the Archipelago, and China ; a few of the 
forms are quite Malay, as the Prionocliilus recently discovered, 
and have not been noticed in India. 

There is quite an absence of works on the ornithology of 
Ceylon similar to those descriptive of Indian birds, by 
Latham, Sykes, Gould, Hodgson, Tickell, and Jerdon, who 
published in 1839 a description of 390 Indian birds, \^'ith a 
new edition in 1862-4, enumerating 1016 species. Besides 
these must be mentioned Horsfield's ** Catalogue of the East 
India Museum." Mr. Blyth remarks that many Ceylon bird& 
have a darker hue and brighter markings on their feathers than 
those of similar species in India, while some are paler. 
Temminck points out a similar distinction in the birds of 
Sumatra, which are brighter than those of other parts of 
the Archipelago. 

Dr. Kelaart says Europeans arriving in the island for the 
first time are frequently disappointed in not finding as many 
birds with gorgeous plumage as they had been led to expect, 
but upon a more intimate acquaintance with the feathered 
tribe in Ceylon they will find that, although in general not so 
gaudy as those of South America and other places, there are 
many possessing more real beauty and harmony of colour, 
while in grace of form they ai*e unrivalled." The song of 
several rivals that of European birds, but generally speaking 

BIRDS. 141 

a cool climate is in some way necessary to produce song in the 
feathered tribe, the gaudy birds of tropical countries being 
usually quite deficient in this respect. Among the low-country 
songsters will be noticed the charming flute-like notes of the 
oriole, and the rich voice of the dayal-bird of the Europeans 
{Copsychus satdaris), while in the mountains the long-tailed 
thrush, the Newera-EUia robin, and black-bird, remind the 
invalid at this sanatarium of their European namesakes. 

Generally speaking, it is only on emerging from the denser 
parts of the jungles, and approaching the margins of tanks, 
rivers, ravines, and open country that birds are very numerous ; 
for they seem to rejoice in the light, and avoid the deep gloom 
of the interior of the forest, particularly in the morning, when 
the air in these localities resounds with the cries of a host of 
finches, fly-catchers, parroquets, and peacocks, who make up 
in noise for the want of harmony in their voices. 

In the hotter parts of the isle, many birds retire during the 
great heat of mid-day into the deep shade, where they hide 
themselves. The same absence of birds has also been noticed 
in the denser jungles of India. 

The chief feature in the ornithology of Ceylon is the vast 
number of parroquets and profusion of fly-catchers. Also 
water-fowl, which in endless variety frequent the lagoons and 
marshes, chiefly in the eastern province about Batticaloa and 
places more north, the trees on the sides of the lagoons where 
many of them make their nests are white from their droppings, 
and the young birds who fall into the water underneath become 
the prey of the crocodiles who infest it. 

Many representatives of British birds are found in the 
island, wagtails, sparrows, king-fishers, crows, hawks, kites, 
herons, &c, Mr. Blyth remarks few persons have any idea of 
the extent to which British birds are found in Southern India. ^ 
Some are migratory, but their habits in this respect are un- 
certain, most of the wild ducks and other water fowl migrate, 
arriving with N.E. monsoon ; among them is the Indian snipe 
{GaUinago stenura). The other migrates are the green wagtail, 
the Philippine weaver bird, and the bee-eater, the rose-coloured 

^ In Calcntta Joor., No. 55. 


starling, several of the swallows, the finch lark, the hoopoe, the 
yellow wagtail, PhyUopneuste nitidus and Tephrodomia affinus, 
which is said to be only found in Ceylon, its other habitat has not 
been defined. PhyUopneuste montanus and Lanius erythronotus, 
both Himalayan birds, are found at Point Pedro, and seyeral 
other Indian mountain species frequent the sea coasts of the 

Although there is no distinction of seasons as in Europe, 
most of the birds make their nests in the early months of the 
year, but it is not a general rule, as the eggs of some are found 
at all times. 

AcciPiTREs. — Eagles. — With a few exceptions, eagles are 
neither large nor numerous in the island ; the Genoese eagle 
(Aqiiila honelli) is so seldom seen, little is known of its habits ; 
it probably migrates from India, where it is considered a fine 
bird, loving high mountains, wild places, and lofly trees, 
soaring at a great height in the air. 

The pennated eagle (Aquila pennata), and the crested Nepal 
eagle (Limnaetics Nipalensis) are also rare ; the latter, a noble 
bird, has been found in the moimtains, where the Malay eagle 
{Neopm Malayensis) is more often seen. The crested Java 
eagle {Spizaetus limnaetus), a bold and daring bird, is found in 
all parts of the island, haunting the hamlets of the natives, and 
carrying off their poultry from before their doors. The 
pennated eagle is much dreaded in India from the same habit. 

The crested serpent eagle {Spilornis bacha) is abundantly 
and widely distiibuted throughout the island. This fierce and 
gloomy tyrant of the jungles lies in wait for its prey near 
tanks and marshes, concealed in the overhanging trees, from 
which it pounces on the fresh-water snakes, frogs, and other 
reptiles found in these localities. " When a frog perceives its 
shadow over him he crouches and changes his colour, so as to 
be hardly distinguished by the human eye, but to no purpose, 
for the next instant he is in the eagle's claws." ^ This eagle 
builds its nest in trees, and its doleful cry is as much dreaded 
by the superstitious Sinhalese as the " oolanna." Holdsworth 
says it is not the true Cheela of India. 

* LayanL 

BIEDS. 143 

The white-bellied sea erne (Pontoaetm leucogaster) is a for- 
midable looking bird, and the largest bird of prey in the island, 
chiefly frequenting the northern shores and salt marshes, and 
the sandy mud banks of Adam's Bridge, rising heavily in the 
air, but when well on the wing " has a noble and imposing flight 
as it hovers over the sands and swoops down on fish caught in 
shallow waters, crabs, or sea snakes, and with an exulting cry 
soars aloft with a victim in its claws." ^ The fishing eagle 
(Pontodetua ichthyaettLs) is found chiefly near tanks and marshes 
in the Wanney, preying on fish, frogs, and snakes. The 
Ceylon eagle {H. spilogaster), as it is called in Layard's and 
Tennent's Ust, is now said to be only a young Bacha (Holds- 
worth, P.Z.S. 1872) ; Jerdon had previously suggested that it 
probably came from Southern India (i. 79). 

Kites. — Two or three species frequent the sea shores and 
shallow waters, preying on small waders, fish, or any garbage. 
The most common is the Govinda, or black kite of the 
Europeans and Pariah kite of the natives {Milvvs govinda) ^ 
their great resort being the northern and western shores, 
haunting the streets of native fishing hamlets and villages, 
fighting with the pariah dogs over the garbage from the canoes* 
Jerdon says people have no idea of the vast number of these 
birds in India frequenting the streets of Calcutta and other 
towns picking up garbage ; they also follow every camp in the 
Peninsula, being fearless and useful scavengers, contending 
with crows and dogs for any refuse to be found. They are 
said when gorged with food to bask in the sun with outstretched 
wings on entablatures of buildings in the attitude of the hawk 
depicted on Egyptian monuments.^ Sevas kite {Haliastur 
IndiM) is common along the whole sea board, particularly near 
mouths of rivers, preying on carrion. They build their nests 
of sticks in trees near water, and feed their young on soft 
reptiles. They have been dedicated by the Hindus to Seva, who, 
along with the Mahometans, regard them with superstition ; 
they say when two armies are about to engage in conflict their 
appearance over either party prognosticates victory to that sides 

^ Layard. ' Buchanan, quoted in Horsfield's Catalogue. 

* J. A. S. Beng., z. 629, 1849. 


Hatch*. — The kestrel falcon {TinnunculuM alaudarhu), a 
bold little bird, is common on open plains, hunting in conples, 
skimming close to the ground, darting on small birds. Two 
species of harriers (Circus Stcain$onii and C cintrascens) are 
found in similar localities; also in paddy fields, cultiTated 
grounds and swamps, preying on birds and reptiles, seizing 
water snakes with a swoop as they skim over the surface. 

The three-streaked kestrel (Astur tririr^tus) is a bold and 
daring bird, found chiefly in the mountains, breeding in steep 
rocky places, where it is common, robbing the chickens and 
young poultry of the natives. Swift and war}", it usually 
escapes all attempts to shoot or capture it. They are trained 
by the Sinhalese as hunting falcons, their eyes being darkened 
by a silken thread passed through holes in the eye lids, which 
are thus drawn together at pleasure. ^ The sparrow hawk of 
Europe (Accipiter badius) is common, but the rest of the 
falcons in the list are rare, the peregrine falcon being only 
found about Jaffiia. In India, it is called the Sultan falcon, 
and much used for hawking. 

Mr. Holdsworth says a species of buzzard (Buteo desertorum) 
in Lord Walden's collection was obtained in Ceylon ; it was 
probably a straggler from India. The existence of buzzards as 
natives of the island is very doubtful. 

OwU. — The large Bubo orientalis of India has not been 
noticed in the island, ilost of the Ceylon species feed on 
insects or fish ; they are rarely seen hunting after mice as in 
England.^ The largest is the Ketupa Ceylonensis^ or brown 
fish owl, a strong bird with bare legs and feet. The *' bak- 
kamuna " of the natives, common in all parts of the island, 
building in gloomy, rock}^ places, among thick jungles, 
emerging with the twilight from concealment, uttering a loud 
unpleasant cry. They prey much on small fish, which they 
catch in shallow water during moonlight nights, and are fond 
of perching on trees overhanging tanks. A small-tufted owl 
(Ephialtes lempijii) is equally common with the preceding 
during moonlight nights, hunting among trees for beetles, with 
a melancholy kind of barking cr3\ It is also found in Nepal and 

» Layard, Ann. Nat. Hurt., 1853, p. lOi. ^ Kelaart, Fao. Zey. 

BIRDS. 145 

Malabar. * Holdsworth, in his list, has restored the old name 
of " bakkamuna," given by Forster in 1781, who erroneously 
applied to it the native name of the larger species. He " doubts 
if Dr. Kelaart's description of tufted owls in Ceylon is correct. 
A good deal of confusion has existed among these species in 
India, and have been variously named by naturalists." Eared 
owls are distinguished by two tufts of feathers, which rise on 
each side of the head like ears, giving them a cat-like look. 

A little owl, of a deep chesnut colour, faintly banded with 
red, called ** punchy bassa"^ by the Sinhalese {Athene cas- 
tanotus), principally found in the mountains, and occasionally 
about Colombo and Ratnapura, first noticed by Dr. Templeton, 
is said to be peculiar to Ceylon. Mr. Blyth considered it 
close allied to the Java species {A . castanopterus), and three of 
the smaller owls of India.* The wing is only five inches long. 
They are usually seen in the mornings and evenings, and 
during moonlight nights, preying on geckoes and insects 
creeping up trees. 

Jerdon says "the Athene brama, a littled spotted jungle 
owlet, is found all over India, Ceylon, and Burmah.*'^ If so, 
it is new to the ornithology of the island, not having been 
noticed by any other observer in it. The back is grey brown, 
each feather having two white spots, beneath is white barred 
with brown. Holdsworth introduces a new species of horned 
owl (Huhua pectoralis), not uncommon in the lower mountAins. 
It closely resembles H. Nipalensis, only smaller, and might 
also be mistaken for a E. levipigii (P.Z.S. 1872). 

Strlx Javanica is only found about the fort of Jaffiia, and at 
Aripo, hiding in holes in the ramparts, and feeds much on 
fish caught in shallow water. It is closely allied to the bam 
owl {Strix flammea) of England.* 

Symium indranee, a brown wood owl, found in lonely jungles, 
is supposed by some to be the **oolanna," or devil bird of the 

' ** Punchy bassa ** means little owl. ** Bassa " is a general name for owl among 
the Sinhalese. 
2 Vide Horefield's Catalog., ; Blyth, J. A. S. Beng., xv. 280. 
M. 142, ed. 1862. 
* Kelaart. 



Sinhalese, whose horrid shriek at night terrifies th'e natives 
out of their senses, being considered a sure forerunner of some 
misfortune when it is heard in the vicinity of their huts. 

There is really something very mysterious attached to this 
cry, for, although nearly every person in Ceylon who lives in 
the jungle has heard it at night, yet nobody seems to have ever 
seen the bird or shot one in the act of shrieking, or can give 
any positive idea of what it really is, — ** some think it is not 
an owl, but a black night-raven;"^ others doubt about its 
being the S. indranee, as in India, where the natives are equall}'' 
afraid of this shriek, and women wrap their clothing round 
their ears when they hear it. The S. ijidranee is said never to 
approach houses. Horsfield says, **the Athene scutellata is 
the de\41-bird of the Hindus." Holdsworth thinks the devil- 
bird must be the S. indranee : he mentions hearing these cries 
at Aripo, — " piercing and convulsive screams so hoiribly 
agonizing it was difficult to believe murder was not being 
committed ) so, rifle in hand, he ran cautiously to the jungle, 
followed by his servant, but before he reached the place the 
cries had ceased.'* Knox says, " I have often heard it mj'self, 
and it frightens the dogs;*' but he did not appear to know 
what species of bird it was. 

Pigafetta mentions that, in the Philippines, every night a 
black bird, the size of a crow, came at night, and by its 
screams frightened the dogs. 

The superstitions connected with the screech-owl, or night 
raven, is mentioned by Shakespear, who writes : — 

"It was the owl tliat shrieked, tlie fat^l bellman, 
Which gives the sternest good night ; " 

and was known to the Romans, who also appear to Iiave been 
in doubt as to the kind of bird that produced these sounds, 
some of their descriptions being quite fabulous.' 


** Nocturntcqne geniiint strigcs, et fcnilia bubo 
Danina eanens."— Statins, Theb. iii. 511. 

* Tennent, vol. i. Horsf. Cata., p. 69 ; J. A. S. Beng., xvi. 464, xiv. 184. 

2 Ovid. Fasti, vi. 139; Plin., x. 17. Tibnllus, Ekg. 1. i. v. 52. From the 
earliest times the owl has been generally regarded as a bird of evil omen ; by the 
Greeks it was considered as an emblem of wisdom and dedicated to Minerva. 

BIRDS. 147 

Capriiimlg'uhCy or Goat-suckers. — Formerly deemed of evil 
omen, derived their name from having been supposed to enter 
at night into the folds of shepherds to suck the udders of 
goats, which caused them to shrivel up from the injury (Plin. x., 
5G) ; they are also known as night-jars and night-hawks, 
generally appearing during twilight and moonlight, but never 
when quite dark, and live on insects. 

Layard's Batrachoatomm inoniligcry which is not a true 
CajmmulrjidcB, found among steep rocks in the mountains, is a 
rare and singular bird, remarkable for the brilliancy of its eyes 
at night ; the plumage is a reddish brown mixed with black 
and white. It was supposed to be peculiar to Ceylon, but 
has been found in Malabar, and known as the Wynand frog- 
mouth {Podargus Jaranica) ;^ the order to which it belongs are 
named from their wide mouths resembling those of frogs. 

A goat-sucker, named ** Sa bassa" by the Sinhalese, C 
atripeunis, is common about Colombo and the south, hiding 
in the day among trees ; during rainy evenings, when white 
ants are swarming, they are actively engaged along Avith^crows 
and bats in exterminating them. Holdsworth says, ** this 
bird was mistaken b}' Layard for Sykes' Maharatta goat-sucker, 
a very rare bird of India.** Blyth seems to have tliought it 
the same.^ 

The Indian night-jai* (C Asiaticm), is found in jungles 
asleep during the day, coming out at evening with a rapid, 
low, and noiseless flight, for a short distance, when they alight 
on the ground, squatting close down. 

The Newera Ellia night-jar (C Kclaartl), a large bird of its 
kind, which swanns on the plains after sunset, was also said to 
be peculiar to the island, but is identical with the Nilgherry 
night-jar of Jerdon, a light gi-eyish colour mottled with black 
and white .^ 

Passeres. — Swallows. — Three or four of the swallows are 
confined to the mountain district, among them is the Aus- 
tralian spiny-tailed swift (Acanthylis caudicuta), the largest 

> Hinls of Ii)d., ii. 180 ; Ulyth, J. A. S. IUnIi,^, xviii. 800. 
2 .1. A. S. TMiiig., 1840, p. 283. 
» Kclaart, Jcnl. i. 193. 

L 2 


species known, remarkable for its amazing power of flight. 
They migrate from Australia, and have been noticed at Newera 
Ellia, always keeping high in the air, but are rarely seen. 
Hirundo domicola is known in the Nilgherries as the Bungalow 
swallow ; they also build in houses at Newera Ellia. Hinindo 
hyperythra is a red-breasted swallow, discovered in 1849, 
by Mr. Layard at Ambepusse, and supposed to be peculiar 
to the island; but one has been obtained by Lord Walden 
from Malacca. ** They build a globular nest with a round hole 
at the top. A pair built a nest in the ring of a hanging- 
lamp in Dr. Gardner's room at Peradenia, and hatched their 
young, unscared by the daily trimming and Hghting of the 
lamp." 1 

The common palm-swift {Cypseliis batassiensis) builds a 
cup-shaped nest containing two eggs, in palmyra palms. In 
India they are said to be semi-nocturnal in their habits, appear- 
ing at sunset, seldom flying far from the palm-trees, and to 
line their nests with mucus; but the nests were probably 
mistaken for those of the Artamus fuscus. 

The black-swdft (C affinis) is a migratory bird, forming 
nests of mud in the rocks at Dambool. In India they build 
among high pagodas. 

A rare swallow {Hirundo erythropygia), a Southern Indian 
-species, resembling the red-breasted swallow, but less red- 
dish, only seen in the north, was mistaken for H. daurica, 
a Northern Indian species found in the Nepal. The common 
swallow of Europe, H. rusticay abounds in the maritime pro- 
vinces, flying over pools and swampy places, often resting in 
large flocks on the ground. 

The most remarkable of the Swifts is the Collocalia nidijica^ 
which forms tlie "edible nest'* considered by the Chinese the 
most recherclie of all delicacies. It is not exactly known what 
is the substance these nests are lined with, the outer part 
being made of grass, moss, &c. ; it resembles strings of isinglass 
of a reddish-white colour and very brittle, tasting, when cooked, 
like vermicelli. Sir C. Home suggested that they are formed 

* I-jiyanl, Ann. Nat. Hiat., 1858. 

BIRDS. 149 

of a glutinous matter secreted in the mouths of the birds by 
large salivary glands, which is very probable ;^ some think 
they are composed of a species of seaweed. Dr. Kelaart says, 
** they visit Newera Ellia in the spring, and that their nests 
have been found in a rocky cave in Mount Pedro. The nests 
are the size and shape of a goose egg, and weigh about half an 
ounce when the outer part is removed ; the best kind, those in 
which young have not been reared, bring twice their weight in 
silver in China. A few are sent from Ceylon, being obtained 
in caves near the sea at Caltura (where the birds resort) by 
some Chinese, who rent the royalty from Government; but 
Java furnishes the chief supply. They were first noticed in 
1658 by Bontius, in his " History of the East Indies.'* {Vide 
Horsfield's " Catalogue "). 

Kinqfishera. — The gurial (Pelargopsis gurial) is rare at 
Colombo, being more common about the Caltura river, and 
abundant in the Eastern provmce, frequenting tanks and 
swamps, preying on fish, frogs, and small mollusca. This is 
a large and powerful bird, uttering a loud harsh cry when on 
the wing ; it usually perches on a high branch overhanging 
water, waiting for a passing fish. 

The Smyrna kingfisher {Halcyon smyrnensis, Linn.), a white- 
breasted bird, is common everywhere near rivers, paddy fields, 
tanks, salt and freshwater marshes, preying on fish, crabs, and 
beetles, and occasionally seizes butterflies in the manner of the 

The dwarf {Ceyx tridactyla), is a lovely little purple bird, 
with only three toes ; found in all parts of the island, altliough 
not numerous. ** It delights equally in the mountain torrent 
or the stagnant tank, glancing over them with the velocity of 
an arrow, its minute form evading the quickest shot." * 

The dark-blue Bengal kingfisher (Alcedo Bengalensis) — 
**mal-pillihuda" of the Sinhalese — ^is found throughout the 
island, and the most common in the maritime provinces; 
rather solitary in its habits, perching for hours over some 
lonely water on a stick stuck in a paddy field or overhanging 
branch on a river, watching for fish or aquatic insects, ** and 

* J. A. SL Beng., xiv. 210. ' Layard, Ann. Nat Hiit, 1853. 


are caught in gi*eat numbers, some seasons, by the Moormen, 
who send their skins to China for embellishing fans. The trap 
is a net spread under water covered with horsehair nooses, 
baited with small fish." ^ 

Ceryle rudis, a black-and-white bird : unlike most king- 
fishers, seizes its prey on the wing, hovering over the water at 
some height, and falling like a stone on a luckless fish, 
momentarily disappearing under the surface. 

Meropina — Bee-eaters — are beautiful little birds of a pre- 
vailing light green colour, preying on bees, coleoptera, and 
other insects. Their usual manner of catching them is to 
station themselves on a tree or old building in watch for a 
passing insect, on which they dart, seizing them in their bill. 

The Philippine bee-eater (Mcrops Philippiniis)^ migrates to 
the island in numbers in September. In the evenings tliey 
hunt for insects high in the air like swallows. 

The Indian bee-eater {M, viridis), is found in open places of 
the northern and eastern provinces, delighting in water, over 
which it hunts for flies, taking them off tlie suiface. Their 
flight is very graceful, gliding through the air with expanded 
wings and tail. They roost in large flocks in the same trees 
for months. 

The five-coloured bee-eater {M. quinticolor), is foimd chiefly 
in the hills of the interior, pursuing insects among the tree- 
tops, rarely descending to the ground except when breeding, 
scooping holes in steep banks for their nests. 

The Hoopoes — found in Ceylon are said to vary in colour, and 
have a tendency to assume the Bm'mah tj^pe. They are 
common about Jaffiia during the N.E. monsoon, being partly 
migratory, and supposed to be the crested Indian hoopoe 
{Upupa nigripennis). 

Sun Birds or Honey Birds — are erroneously called humming 
birds by Europeans in the islatid, being of a different genus, 
and having less beautiful plumage, chiefl}' of a purple or russet 
colour, with brilliant yellow plumes on each side of the breast, 
and curved bills, with tubular tongues adapted for extracting 
honey from flowers. Their plumage is more remarkable for 

* Lay., Aim. Nat Hist, 1853. Pillilmda is a general native name for kingfishors. 

BIRDS. 151 

the peculiar metallic reflections and gem-like lustre than gaudy 

Nectarinia Zeylanica — are most frequently seen in the morn- 
ings and evenings hovering over flowers, into which they thrust 
their long bills in search of minute insects or honey, on which 
they live, and occasionally seize spiders on their webs. These 
little birds are pugnacious, often fighting over the flowers, the 
victor flapping his wings like a game cock, and are very viva- 
cious in their movements. 

The shoiii-billed honey-bird {Nectarinia Asiatica) builds a 
dome-shaped nest on the extremity of a twig, over which 
spiders are allowed to weave their webs, as it conceals the nest 
from observation. A kind of roof or portico is built over it 
projecting an inch beyond the sides. 

TickeFs honey-bird {Dicceum minimum) is the smallest in 
Ceylon, frequenting hibiscus and other trees which are covered 
with parasitic loranthus, feeding on the berries. Its plumage 
is olive, with a little red on the back. 

Warblers and Creepers, — Anew creeper, Prionochilus vincens, 
belonging to a Malay group, discovered among the lower 
Southern hills, is described by Mr. Legge, F.Z.S., in P. Z. S., 
1872. It is about four inches long; head, back, rump, and 
lesser wing-covers, a dull steel blue ; greater wing-covers and 
tail black ; chin, chest and throat, white ; under parts yellow ; 
red irides, black bill legs and feet. Dendrophila frontalis is 
a charming little blue creeper found on jak trees, creeping in 
small parties with rapid movements over the branches, exami- 
ning every leaf in search of insects. 

The tailor-bird {Orthotomus longicauda) has earned its 
name from the habit of forming a nest among green leaves by 
sewing several together, making holes with its bill, and then 
passing a fibre through them. The nest is afterwards lined 
with cotton, or some soft substance. The tailor-bird is small, 
of a pale brown colour, with a long tail, wliich they are con- 
tinually jerking upwards as they hop about, being ver}^ lively 
in theii' movements, and feed much on spiders. They usually 
select broad-leaved plants to build in, although Mr. Layard has 
seen a nest formed of a dozen of narrow oleander leaves drawn 


together, having a hole in the side. Various substances are 
used for sewing, the most common being silky fibres of plants. 
Jerdon says, ** They use cotton, but prefer cotton thread when 
they can get it. He knew one to pounce upon bits of thread 
during the absence of a tailor who was employed sewing in a 
verandah" (2, i., 167).^ 

Layai'd's mountain warbler {Cisticola omalura), of a dusky 
black colour, supposed to have been peculiar to Ceylon, is said 
to be identical with C. schosnicola, Bonap. They abound in 
the lemon grass of Newera EUia and Horton Plains, w^here 
they make their nests ; and are occasionally found at Galle and 
Colombo, but are more numerous about Jaffna in gingily fields. 
When alarmed, they drop down to the roots of the plants. 
Drymoica valida is a similar bird, peculiar to Ceylon, fre- 
quenting turfs of grass, and allied to D. sylvaticus (2, i., 181), 
having a hght red-brown iris. 

The dayal bird, or magpie-robin {Copsyclms saularis), 
** pohchia " of the Sinhalese, resembles a magpie, and is seldom 
seen far from habitations, about which it builds in neighbouring 
trees, and feeds on insects. Mr. Layard relates finding tw^o old 
birds attacking with great noise a gi-een snake that had coiled 
itself round one of their young, which was dead, having evi- 
dently died from fear.^ Mr. Sclater, in the P. Z. S., 1871 
(186), adds a variety of the above C\ Ceylonicus to the ornitho- 
logy of the island. It is similar to C. hrevirostris, Blyth, of 

The Indian or sooty robin {Thamnohia fullcata) , of the low- 
country, a popular favourite and pleasant songster both in 
Ceylon and the Peninsula, is also found about habitations, 
perching on house-tops and fences, constantly elevating its tail 
over its head. They have a few red feathers in the tail. 

The Newera EUia robin {Pratincola atrata), a melodious 
songster, was supposed to be peculiar to the island, but Jerdon 
says it is the same as the Nilgherry robin ; a very familiar bird 
in its habits, making a nest of moss in banks.^ 

The best song bird in the island is the long-tailed thrush 

» Liuut. Ilutton, J. A- S. Beng., ii. 502. ' Ann. Nat. Hist., 1853, p. 263. 

» V. 2, part 1, 124. 

filBDS. 153 

(Kittacincla macroura), the "shama" of India, which is solitary 
in its habits, frequenting dense jungles in the upper country, 
singing in the mornings and evenings. In India it is con- 
sidered superior to the nightingale, and kept in cages at 

The white-eyed bush creeper {Zosterops palpebrosus) is com- 
mon in the south, creeping in small parties over flowers, 
searching for insects. Mr. Holdsworth introduces a new 
creeper, very numerous at Newera Ellia, Z. Ceylonensis, closely 
resembling the preceding, olive gi'een on the back, yellow neck, 
white under-parts. 

lora Zeylanica and I. typhia are little black and yellow 
birds, whose plumage varies considerably, the head and wings 
being usually black. They have a clear bell-like note, and have 
been called the yellow " bul-bul." 

Wagtails. — The yellow wagtail of Europe {Mota<:illa sul- 
phurea), common in jungle streams of the Nilgherries, migrates 
to the island, which, along with the Tit (Paru^ cinereus), and 
two other Motacilla, are found in all parts of Ceylon, near 
shallow rocky streams, picking up insects. The black-breasted 
Indian wagtail (Motacilla Indica), called " gomarita" or dung- 
spreader by the Sinhalese, is a charming little bird, found in 
shady places, searching cattle dimg for insects. Several 
species of Anthus, or titlarks, called skylarks in Ceylon, from 
their rising in the air in a similar manner, are common 
all over tlie island. The tree pipit (CorydaUa striolata), is 
found in flocks among ravines and edges of tanks. 

Thrushes. — This family are less numerously represented in 
Ceylon than India, several Peninsula birds being absent, 
among which is the white thrush. The most common is 
Pitta brachyura, a short-tailed thrush, called " Avitchia " by the 
Sinhalese, abundant in the maritime provinces. Alcippe nigri- 
frons is a black and brown coloured species, peculiar to the 
island, foimd in low jungles bordering ravines, and closely 
allied to A.atriceps oi India. The spotted thrush (Oreocincla 
spiloptera), found only in the mountains, is also peculiar to 
Ceylon, as well as the Newera Ellia black-bird {Turdulus Kin- 
ncsii), which is a jet black, with yellow legs, very numerous at 


the Sanatarium. There are also hill black-birds in India. 
Merula s'lmillima of the Nilghenies is very like the above, only 
of a smaller size;^ and Ward's thrush {Merula Wardii) is 
another common to both places, distinguished by a white streak 
near the eye, a white patch on the wings, and pale under-parts. 

Oreocincla Nilgirensis, a mountain thrush, is a general 
black colour mixed with olive. Each feather pales near the 
end, terminating in a black colour, which gives the bird a scaly 
appearance. It was supposed to be peculiar to Ceylon.^ 

Dumetia Albogularis is called the "pig-bird'* in India, from 
its habit of creeping under dense jungles. In Ceylon it is 
almost confined to the cinnamon gardens about Colombo. 

Orioles — called mango birds by Europeans in India, and 
** kacooralla" or yellow birds by the Sinhalese, present two 
varieties in Ceylon. The black-headed species (Oriolus 
viclanocephalm), is very abundant in most parts, their bril- 
liant orange plumage quickly attracting attention to them as 
they flit from tree to tree. There are two species of O. mchi- 
nocephalas, one found in Bengal having the head and the whole 
of the breast with the wings black, the other, found in Malabar, 
Southern India and Ceylon, the 0. Ceyloniciis of Bonaparte, 
only black about the head, neck aud wings. 

The golden oriole (0. Indicus), the "kindu" of India, is 
rare in Ceylon. The oriole occasionally visits England in the 
summer, but, as the ** Field" remarks, the gaudy plumage of 
the male bu'd, and the charmingly melodious but melancholy 
whistle, is too attractive for their safety, being immediately 
shot for museums. 

Babblers — are a gregarious and noisy family of birds, con- 
tinually chattering like magpies, usually of a pale brown 
coloui', and obtain their food on the ground, searching the dung 
of cattle for insects, hence they are also called dung- thrushes. 
Several species are found in Ceylon. Malacocercus strlatus 
are called the ** seven brothers " by the natives, from there 
being usually that number of them together. When perched 
on a tree they follow each othor in succession ; first, one drops 
on the ground, then another, and so on to the last. The 

' liirds of Ind., i. 624. - Layard, Aim. Nat. Hist, 1854. 

BIRDS. 155 

Hindus likewise apply the term ** sat bhai '* (seven brothers), 
the Bengal babbler. 

Pycnontidce — are numerous in Ceylon and India, where they 
seem to be erroneously called bul-bul, or nightingale, by Euro- 
peans, as none of them sustain the reputation for song of the 
nightingale of Europe {Sylvia luscinia). The term has also 
been applied to lora Zeylanica and Phyllomis Malabarica; how- 
ever, the true bul-bul of Persia is said to be one of the Pycnoii- 
tid(e. According to Pallas, it is the Sylvia luscinia which the 
Armenians call " Boul-boul," and the Crim Tartars " Byl- 
byl." The Himalaya bul-bul {Hypsipetes psaroides) is also 
called the jimgle-goat, a name that does not indicate much of a 
songster, and certainly the Indian birds must be inferior to that 
of Iran, ** the bu-d of a thousand songs," if we are to believe 
the Persian poets, and which Kazwini says has such a j)assion 
for the rose it cries when it sees one pulled.^ 

The most numerous in Ceylon is the Pycnonotu^ heemorrhous, 
called by the Portuguese Kondatchee ; and " kowekoralla," or 
top-knot bird, by the Sinhalese, from the crest on the head of 
the male. They are trained from the nest by the natives to 
fight, being considered by them the most game of all birds, 
sinking from exhaustion rather than release their hold of an 
antagonist. Kelaart's yellow-eared New^era bul-bul {P. peni- 
cillattis), was supposed to be pecuUar to Ceylon, but Jerdon 
says he has seen a similar bird in Mysore. The head is brown, 
and the feathers have a scale-like appearance. 

Fly-catchers. — Mylagra ccerula is a lovely little blue bu*d 
found in flocks all over the island. It is said in India to dart 
into water like king-fishers after aquatic beetles.^ 

Tchitrea Paradisi—is named " kadde hora," cotton thief, by 
the Sinhalese, from the two long, narrow, black-shafted, white 
feathers in the tail. Their plumage about the head, neck and 
breast is black, the remainder being white. They are restless 
in their habits, flitting from branch to branch in search of in- 
sects, whisking their long tails over their heads with a harsh 

» Ousley, Orien. Coll. i. 16 ; Pennant's Brit. Birds, L iOi. The British uiime 
is derived from uight-galan, Saxon, **to sing at night." 
* Ann. Nat. IjList, 1863. 


cry, and are very numerous in the South. The plumage of this 
bird, which is found all over India, from the Himalayas to 
Ceylon, is subject to change ; at some seasons the white 
feathers become brownish, and are then called " gini hora," fire 
thief, by the natives. It is called by the Europeans the Ceylon 
bird of paradise. There are, however, no real birds of para- 
dise in the island, being almost pecuUar to the Archipelago. 
Nicolo di Conti states they had no feet, and it was long 
believed in Europe that such was the case, which idea may 
have arisen from the circumstance of the natives cutting the 
legs off the skins they used as ornaments. Pigafetta mentions 
that the King of Bachan, one of the Moluccas, gave a pair of 
them to Magellan as a gift for the Emperor, Charles V. The 
name was given by the Malays, who say such beautiful crea- 
tures could only come from heaven. 

Layard's fly-catcher {Butalis muttui) is a handsome and 
rare bird, with rufous and white plumage, supposed to be pecu- 
liar to Ceylon, but Jerdon says it is identical with Alsconiix 
fernigineus of Nepal, which occasionally migrates to the plains in 
cold weather. Its presence in Ceylon was probably accidental, 
only one having been found at Point Pedro by Mr. Layard. 

Pericrocotus Perigrinus is a pretty lively bird, with a crimson 
rump, frequenting thick jungles, ever active in pursuit of flies ; 
and P. Jlammeus is a larger variety, found in flocks in the 
higher jungles. 

Jerdon adds two fly-catchers to the ornithology of the island, 
Ochroviela nigrortifa, found in the highest parts, also in tlie 
Nilgherries ; the head, wings and back ai-e black, and the rest 
orange ; the other, Erythrosterna Leucura, has head, back and 
wings a grey olive brown ; the tail, which is a darker tint, has 
four of the outer feathers on each side white, broadly tipped 
with brown. In spring, the male bird becomes rufous about 
the chest.^ Mr. Holdsworth thinks Jerdon has mistaken it for 
E. Hyperyihra^ some specimens of which have been obtained 
at Newera Ellia. 

Two birds, quite new species, have been recently added by 
Viscount Walden ; Glancomyias sordida, an ashy grey colour, 

A Birds of lud., I 460, 462, 481 ; J. A. S. Bung., xvL 473, zv. 291. 

BIRDS. 157 

with a faint tinge of blue, forehead and shoulders deep blue, 
under-parts white, resembling G. melanopm, for which it 
appears to have been mistaken by Dr. Kelaart Geocichla 
Layardii has head, neck, and under-parts a deep orange, back 
a blue grey ; they are found in the South-east hills.^ 

Shrikes. — Artavitis fmcua, a slate-coloured bird with a 
rufous breast ; catches flies on the wing like swallows ; fre- 
quenting cocoa-nut and palmyra palms, where they build 
their nests, lining them with mucus, and are very active in 
pursuit of insects during toddy drawing, who are attracted by 
the sweet liquid. 

Most of the shrike family are fond of lofty trees, where they 
make their nests of roots and grass, and pounce from their 
high perches on passing insects. They are also found on the 
backs of cattle searching for ticks, and habitually pursue crows. 
Some of them are called butcher birds, from a supposed habit 
of impaling live insects on thorns and then eating them piece- 
meal, but this is denied. Jerdon says he did not hear of any 
instance where they practised it in India, and Layard men- 
tions that he never saw them do so in Ceylon.^ " It is a popu- 
lar idea in England that the red-breasted shrike impales insects 
on thorns.''* 

Dicninis minor is a small black species common about 
Colombo, also D, leucopygialis, which is thought to be peculiar 
to the island, where it is called the Ceylon king crow, from 
their habit of chasing every crow they see. They perch on 
cocoa-nut trees, and if one comes near he is instantly pursued. 
This bii'd is very similar to D. ccertdeacens, the Indian king 
crow, which is rarely seen in the island. 

Tephrodomis affinis is called the Ceylon grey-backed but- 
cher-bird, and supposed to be peculiar to it, but as it is migra- 
tor}% arriving in October, it is probably the grey-backed shrike 
of Nepal (7\ Indica). 

Irena puella,^ a lovely blue shrike of Malabar, is occasionally 
seen about Kandy, frequenting lofty and dense jungles. 

» Ann. Nat. Hist, 1870, pp. 218, 416. 

' Ann. Nat. Hist., xiii. ; Horsf. Cata., p. 130. 

» Wood, Nat Hist, p. 872. 

* Ho<igson'a Cata., p. 99. 


Crows, Jays, and Starlings, — Layard*s C'lssa puella was sup- 
posed to have been first discovered by himself, but a specimen 
from Ceylon was previously described and named by Wagler. 
It is a beautiful bird with deep blue and red -brown plumage 
and red legs, found among the ravines of Newera Ellia and 
other places, and peculiar to Ceylon. 

The common carrion crow is abundant everywhere ; also the 
Indian crow {Corvus splendens), which frequents the towns of 
the sea coast in great nimibers, where they are very useful in 
their way, performing the part of scavengers. Heavy fines, it 
is said, were imposed by the Dutch on any one who shot them. 
The immunity they enjoy from molestation renders tbem per- 
fectly indiflferent to the presence of man ; endless stories are 
told of their incredible audacity and thieving propensities. 
The doors and windows of houses being open all day, they 
avail themselves of it to walk into the rooms and steal any 
article they take a fancy to, or food incautiously left in their 
way, and have been known by a sudden swoop to take things 
off a breakfast table while a person was seated at it. They are 
equally impudent in India. Linschoten, speaking of them at 
Cochin, says, ** they fly in at the windows and take meat otF 
dishes — one picked the cotton out of his ink-horn, and blotted 
his paper before him." They betake themselves every evening 
to the lakes about Colombo, splashing and washing in the 
water before retiring to roost in the cocoa-nut and other trees 
of the subm^bs, returning to their town haunts at daybreak. 

The largest and most beautiful of the Maynahs {Eulahcs 
ptilogenys) is supposed to be peculiar to Ceylon, and much 
prized by the natives, who keep them in cages, on account of 
their being able to speak a few words. They are a deep puri^le 
about the head and neck, with yellow ear lappets, and fly in 
flocks perching on high trees, occasionally alighting on the 
backs of cattle in search of ticks. Eulabes religiosa is called 
the Brahmin maynali. 

Pastor roseus, a very beautiful rose-coloured starling, with 
dark wings and head, is found in large flocks at Point 
Pedro, Putlam, and some other places on the northern coasts, 
in July. They are birds of passage, remaining only a short 

' BIRDS. 159 

IleUrrorniii albi-frontata of La3'ard's list is said to be iden- 
tical with Tcincnnchus senex Temm., described by Bona- 
paile as a native of Bengal, but it is peculiar to Ceylon. The 
general colour is black, with a white forehead and throat.. 

Finches. — The nest of the weaver-bird (Ploceus hay a) rivals 
that of the tailor-bii'd in its ingenuity, being a mai'vel of skill. 
Usually made of gi^ass or fibres and attached to the end of a 
branch or frond of a palm-tree, in shape it is something 
like an inverted retort, having a tubular entrance from below. 
The female gets inside during part of the work to draw in and 
interlace the fibres pushed through by the male bird. When 
the nest is finished lumps of clay are stuck on outside, about 
which there are many theories, the original idea derived from 
the Hindus being that the cla}' is used to stick on fire-flies 
to light up the inside of the nest. Jerdon disbelieves this, 
and is of opinion it is used to give weight to the nest to 
prevent its being blown about by the winds from its pendant 
position ; six ounces of clay have been found on one. The 
Sinhalese make the same statement about the fire-flies, but 
neither Layard, or any other European, has ever seen any of 
these insects sticking to the clay. During the time of incu- 
bation the male occupies a separate nest. The weaver-bird is 
something like a sparrow, with a few yellow feathers on the 
back. An account of its nest by Akbar-ali-Klian, of Delhi, is 
given in the Asia. Res. ii. 109. 

Ploceus 7n(iny<ir, a Java bird, entered in Layard's list, is 
said not to be found in Ceylon. It was probabl}^ mistaken for 
the Indian weaver {P, st rial us) ; however, all the weavers are 

A few specimens of Estrelda amamlava have been recently 
found wild about Colombo, and a Munia nihronigra, a northern 
Indian finch at Galle ; they are supposed to be descended from 
some imported in cages and which had escaped into the jungle. 

The familiar sparrow of Europe is represented by his Indian 
namesake Passer Indlcns, common everywhere, and larks by 
the Indian skylark, Alauda gulgula and A, Malaharica, a crested 
species. The finch-lark {Pyrrhxdaiula (jrisea), is a curious 
little bird, found on the open plains and cultivated grounds. 


visiting Ceylon in flocks during the cold season, but do not 
build their nests in it. They make a short flight upwards and 
then fall, repeating the operation at intervals. 

Hombilla. — These singular birds are allied to the Toucan, 
having an immense beak, six or seven inches long, with an 
extraordinary excrescence on the top of it, which is of a grey 
colour, while the bill is yellow and black ; natm*alists are 
puzzled to explain the use of this odd appendage, which would 
seem to be an incimibrance, but such is not the case, as, 
being hollow, it is very light. They live principally on fruit 
and berries, which they swallow whole, tossing them in the 
air and catching them in their bills ; when fruit adheres firmly 
to a stalk they take it in their bills and throw themselves 
from the tree in order that their weight may pull it ofi* the 
branch, and are said to be fond of the fruit of the Nux vomica, 
being called "kuchla" in some parts of India from this circum- 
stance. Sir E. Tennent says they "eat small snakes and 
reptiles," but this does not seem to have been noticed by any 
other observer of their habits. 

Buceros pica is a very large piebald bird, having its black 
plumage varied with four white feathers on each side of the 
tail, and some have been observed of a violet hue (B. vio- 
laceus, Shaw), supposed by him to be a distinct species, but 
it seems to be only a variety. They have a loud harsh cry, 
and are found in most parts of the island in small parties 
flying in line, with alternate heavy strokes of the wing and a 
gliding movement on outstretched pinion.^ ** The Sinhalese 
say the male bird builds up the nest with mud round the 
female when she is sitting on the eggs, leaving only an a2)erture 
for her head, as a precaution against monkeys," which appears 
to be true, as it is a habit of the hornbill family, having been 
observed by ornithologists in Burmah, Java, and India ; Cap- 
tain Tickell says he saw one build up a nest.^ 

B. gingalensU is a small grey species, found in the lower 

* Layard, Ann. Nat. Hist., 18/J3. 

» Jerdon, ed. 1862, vol. i. p. 242-4 ; Mason's " Burmah " ; Horsfield, Zool. 
Res. in Java; Baker, J. A. S., 1859, p. 292; Asia. Kes. v., xviii. 185, xv. 
184-7 ; J. A. S. Beng. 1855, p. 279. 

BIRDS. 1()1 

southern hills. Holdsworth says it is a variety peculiar to 
Ceylon, and has been confounded with B. grisem, which 
Jerdon places in the island ; according to Blyth, B. gingalensis 
is only found in Ceylon and Malabar.^ 

ScANsoRES. Parroqu£t8. — There are no real parrots in 
Ceylon, parroquets being the only genus of " Psittacida" found 
in the island, multitudes of the small green parroquet, PaUe- 
ornis Alexandria named after the great conqueror, during 
whose time they were first brought to the West from India, 
frequent the jungles of the lower countr}', where vast flocks of 
them are seen in the early morning rushing through the air 
above the trees with extraordinary velocity, accompanied by 
loud screaming and deafening din, the \exj epitome of exhu- 
berant excitement. Towards evening they settle on the trees to 
roOSt, in the same noisy manner, being comparatively quiet 
during the heat of mid-day. A part of Ceylon, north of 
Colombo, is called the parrot country, from tlie immense 
numbers who resort in the evenings to the trees that line tlie 
sea-shore, and their screams are so loud as to overpower all 
other sounds. 

There ai*e several varieties of the green parroquet (P. tar- 
quatiis), with a rose-coloured ring on the neck; P. cyano- 
cejyhalus, an ashy- headed bird, and P. CalthropcBy which is 
peculiar to Ceylon, a very handsome bird with a purple head, 
frequenting the mountains about Kandy and Newera Ellia in 
flocks, percliing on the highest trees. Holdsworth adds an- 
other variety, P. rosa^ which he says is not uncommon in 
the south ; bill yellow above, black below, irides buff, feet 

Lord Walden has pointed out (P. Z. S. 1867, 467) that the 
Loricidus Asiaticus, Lath., a smaller parroquet, having the 
crown of the head a deep red, passing into a saffron hue on 
the nape, although described as an Indian bird, is peculiar to 

Barhets and Woodpeckers. Mcgalalma Zcyhuuca, a large 
brown and green barbet, is the commonest being found 
ever3rv\'here, feeding on berries and fruit, building in the hollows 

* P. Z. S., 1872, p. 425; Jrrd., on. 1862 ; J. A. S. liong., 1847, p. 996, 1000. 


of trees; Holdswoi-th says it is peculiar to Ceylon. The 
large red-headed aad green-backed barbet (Af. Indica) ** mal 
kutnru " of the Sinhalese, is generally known in Ceylon and 
India as the " copper-smith," its cry resembling the hammer- 
ing of a caldron. The small red-headed barbet {M. rubica' 
jnUa), peculiar to Ceylon, is very common about Colombo, 
Jafiha, and the eastern coast. 

Picus gymnopthalmuSf Layard's woodpecker, is the smallest 
of the tribe in the island, and not numerous ; they are fond 
of climbing jak trees, and have black and white plumage, a 
yellow iris, and purple eyelids.^ 

Gecines chloroph/ines, a green, red-headed bird, is seen about 
Colombo and the lower hills — often found on the ground 
breaking cattle-dung in search of insects, a peculiar habit. 
When alarmed they fly to trees, creeping up the trunks with 
great rapidity. 

Brachyptemiia aurantitis, an orange -backed woodpecker, is 
called the " carpenter " by the Portuguese, and is said to be 
only found in the northern parts of the island, "its loud 
knocking of palm trees resounding in every Palmyra tope of 
the Jaffiia peninsula." « 

The Ceylon woodpecker (B. Ceyloni^ms) is abundant in the 
lower country ; the back and wings are a dull crimson ; it is 
doubtful if this is a distinct species, or only a variety of B. 
Stricklandiif a rare scarlet-backed bird with brownish wings, 
bufiF breast and neck, the rest being a maroon; there are 
some scarlet feathers in the tail, and the head of the male 
bird is scarlet.^ 

Ciickoos abound in the island, fourteen species being found 
in it. Their habits are the same as in England, depositing 
their pale greenish eggs in the unguarded nests of other birds, 
where they are fostered, the young intruders often ejecting the 
lawful possessors. Crows have a great antipathy to them, 
which may be accounted for from the cuckoo showing a pre- 
ference for their nests. The Indian Koel is very partial to 

* Birds of Ind., i. 278, App. 871. Barbets arc allied by some to kingfishers. 
« Layard, Ann. Nat Hist, 1854, p. 449. 
» J. A. S. Beng., xy. 282, xvi. 464. 

BIRDS. 103 

crows' nests, and the Hindus believe that the crow, discover- 
ing the imposture when the young intruder has grown a tole- 
rable size, ejects him from the nest, but Jerdon doubts this 
story. The Sinhalese say the cuckoo's plaintive cry is a peti- 
tion for rain, as they can only swallow drops of water. ^ 

The Indian Koel {Eiidynamys), or greenish-black Oriental 
cuckoo, is the most common in the maritime provinces, parti- 
cularly during the north-east monsoon. The Philippine cuckoo 
{Centropus rujipennis) is called the jungle crow by sportsmen, 
the " kokoola " of the Sinhalese, their general name for all. 
They feed on insects, marching over the ground with a spread- 
ing tail and pompous air, fl}dng to trees when alarmed. The 
common European cuckoo (Ciicidus canarus) is the rarest of 
all. Two are peculiar to the island, Centropus chlororhynchtLS, 
a yellow-billed species with deep brown plumage ; and a green- 
billed malkoha (PJuenicophcem 2^yrrhocepJMlu4$), T\ith rich plu- 
mage, found in the southern mountains. Holdsworth speaks 
of an emerald cuckoo {Lamprococcyx maculatus), C. xantho- 
rynchos of Kelaart, having been seen in the island. 

Pigeons and Doves, — Few Europeans not naturalists have 
any idea of the beauty of some Indian pigeons, the Treron 
or Osmotreon genus, are remarkable for their green plumage 
and graceful shape. The parrot pigeon, or green dove {Osmn- 
treon bicincta), "batta goya" of the natives, is ver}^ abundant 
in the south and west, they are never seen on the ground, 
frequenting the highest trees in flocks, and make a rude nest 
of sticks; they are very shy and live on berries. O.flavo- 
gvlaris is a handsome yellow-breasted bird, and 0. Pompadoura, 
a small species of Pompadour pigeon peculiar to Ceylon, very 
like the above only a little smaller. 

T. chlorogaster, a large green bird, is only seen in the 
north, coming in great numbers from India at times and then 
returning. Carpophaga Torringtonia is a large wood-pigeon 
peculiar to Ceylon, of a slaty colour, flpng high, first de- 
scribed by Dr. Kelaart, but was well known to residents at 
Newera Ellia long before. It frequents tlie valley at particular 

» D'Al^-is "SMath Sangara,"p. civ. ; Sir E. Tenuent iii his Nat Hist. Cey., 
p. 244, applies this to the hunibill. 

u 2 


seasons in great numbers to cat berries, and is allied to 
Palumhus Elphhistonii, the Nilgherry wood-pigeon. 

C. pusiUa, " mahavilla goya '* of the Sinhalese, a small hill 
dove, migratory in the mountain region, feeding on fruits, was 
thought to be peculiar to the island, but it is the same, 
according to Jerdon, as C sylvatica, the green imperial pigeon 
of the Nilghenies. 

The season pigeon {Alsocomus puniciis) is a migi'atory purple 
dove, called " kurundu-cobeya " by the natives, from its fre- 
quenting the cinnamon gardens to eat the berries. 

Turtur risariiiSf a grey coloured tmUe-dove, is very common 
in the north, and T. Suratensis in the central and southern 
jungles. A very handsome bronzed-winged ground pigeon, 
Chalcophaps indicus, is found about Colombo and southern jun- 
gles, a bold bird, very strong and swift on tlie wing, flying low. 

L. Bonaparte has Macropygia macroura from Ceylon, a dove 
of a dusky black colour ; but Lord Walden has shown he was 
mistaken in making Ceylon the habitat, as it is a native of 
Senegal, and was figured by Buffon under the name of Turoco 
(xi. 563). 

The Indian blue rock pigeon (Columba intenncdia) is found 
in great numbers on Pigeon Island, near Trincomalee, where 
they make their nests in crevices among the rocks, but are not 
common in other parts of the island. 

Gallin-e. — The splendid peacock {Pavo cristatm), "monara " 
of the Sinhalese, is rarely seen elsewhere than on the open 
plains of the eastern province, in flocks of from twenty to 
thirty, but generally in paii-s. Their numbers have gi'eatly 
diminished of late through wanton desti*uction, their flesh being 
hard and indigestible. They are most often seen in the 
morning drj^ing their plumage in the sun, retiring during the 
day into the jungles, wher^ they build their nests in ti-ees. It 
is said they eat great quantities of snakes, the scai'city of these 
reptiles in the eastern province being atti-ibuted by Mr. Ben- 
net to the pea-fowl, who desti'oy them. Jerdon says pea-fowl 
in India will eat snakes when kept in confinement, but not 
when wild. Knox relates that the natives used to catch them 

BIRDS 165 

in wot weather with dogs, as their immense tails became too 
heavy from the rain to let them fly. 

Sir E. Tennent, alluding to the European fable of the jack- 
daw borrowing the plumage of the peacock, says it has its 
counterpart in Ceylon, where the popular legend nins that the 
pea-fowl stole the plumage of a bird called by the natives 
" avitchia," which utters a cry resembling the word " neat- 
kiang," which means " I will complain," addressed to the 
rising sun as a plaint. He adds, ** I have not been able to 
identify this bird described as smaller than a crow, with 
mingled red and green plumage."^ The bird named "avitchia" 
by the natives is a short-tailed thi-ush {Pitta hrachyura) ; its 
absence of tail may have given rise to the story. 

The jungle-fowl of Ceylon is said to be a different species 
from that of India, being distinguished by a dark purple spot 
imder the chin and neck. They bear a strong resemblance to 
the barn-door and game fowl, with red hackle, and are often 
seen in the morning on roads in the interior, but are unually 
found in dense jungles. They rear coveys of from six to seven, 
and hybrids, from their mixing with domestic poultry, are 
found in native villages, but chickens reared from their eggs by 
tame fowl rarely live. Their shoi*t, shrill crow is often heard 
in the clear air of the morning, echoing through the ravines of 
the interior. They are very migratory in theii* habits, flocking 
in great numbers to Newera Ellia and other places when the 
** nillo," which is a septennial, ripens, to eat the seeds, on 
which they become amazingly fat and plump. At these 
seasons they are the most delicious of all game, and easily shot 
when pursued by dogs, as they fly into the trees, and remain 
to be fired at one after the other. Spaniels are the best for this 
sport. It is said that jungle-fowl become stupified and bUnd 
from eating the nillo, but there does not seem to be much 
foundation for this statement. 

" A female of the Ceylon jungle-fowl was figured in " Gray's 
Ind. Zoo.," under the name of Gallus Stanleyii, The cock 
bird was subsequently named G. Lafayette, by Lesson, but 
its habitat was unknown imtil a specimen was sent to 

' Nat. Hist, Cev. 


Mr. Bly th from Ceylon." ^ The Indian bird G, Sonncratti, which 
inhabits Southern India, was first made known by the traveller 

The double-spurred partridge (Galloperdix bicalcaratiis)^ 
common in deep jungles of the south and west, is said to be 
peculiar to Ceylon ; they are caught; by the natives with 
nooses. There is a double-spurred partridge (G. Spadiais) in 
India, a kind of mongrel jungle-fowl, which is very like it. 
Blyth speaks of a second species of jungle-fowl in Ceylon 
(G. lineatus), which was probably a hybrid.^ The Pondicherry 
partridge (Francolinus Ponticerianus) is most common on the 
sandy jungles of the North. 

The Chinese quail (Cotwmix Chinensis), and one or two 
varieties of the Indian quail (Tumix taigoor), are rather com- 
mon in the south, among grass and dry paddy fields, and are 
occasionally seen in the cinnamon gardens. 

Gralljs. — The Goa sand-piper (Lobivanellus Goeiisis), and 
L. bUobus are very abundant. The plovers are all birds of pas- 
sage, among which is Charadrius fulvus, and the Philippine 
plover, very common in the salt-pans of the south-eastern 
coast. The turn-stone (Strepsialis interpres) is also seen occa- 
sionally, a little black and white bird, found all over the world. 

Herons. — The purple heron {Ardea purpurea) is usually 
found along the edges of rivers, preying on fish. A. cinerea, 
the common blue heron, is rare. A. Asha is more plentiful, 
building their nests in trees near water. A . aJfra, the great 
white egret, is not a common species. A. bubulcvs is called the 
" gehu-koka," or cattle-keeper by the Sinhalese, being a com- 
mon attendant on cattle in the lower country, picking up 
insects and grubs disturbed by them, and occasionally perching 
on their backs ; they also eat fish. 

Ardeola leu<;optera, the common paddy-field heron, is abun- 
dant in marshes and paddy-fields, standing motionless on their 
embankments, watching frogs who come within their reach. 
Their backs being dark, the white plumage is only seen when 
they are flying, hence the Tamils say they fere like deceitful 
men, only showing their time colours occasionally. 

> Tennent, Nat. Hist. Cey., p. 245. » J. A. S. BcDg., 1847, p. 211. 

BIRDS. 167 

Ardetta cinnamomea is a pretty light brown bird, common in 
the south ; also, the smallest of the herons, A . Sinensis, which 
frequents rivers. Butoroides Javanica, the green bittern, is 
very abundant in the north, preferring salt-water marshes. 
The white spoon-bill (Platalea levrcorodia) is common in the 
eastern province, also the night heron (Nycticorax griseus), 
** ra-kana-koka " of the natives, which usually leaves its roost 
among high trees in the evenings and wings its way to marshy 
feeding grounds. Tigrisoma melanolopha is a rare and curious 
bittern, said not to be found in India but in Arracan. It has 
a strange oblong eye, with a yellow iris, and crest on the 
head ; the legs and bill are green, with yellow claws. 

Storks. — Holdsworth " doubts if the gigantic Australian 
black-necked stork {Mycteria Australis) recorded by Layard 
is found in Ceylon." It is, however, a bird of passage, and has 
been seen in the Nepal. The Calcutta adjutant {Leptoptilus 
argala), which is said to furnish the Marabou feathers, has not 
been remarked in the island, but the small pouchless adjutant 
(L. Javanica) has been occasionally seen in the north, and 
probably migrates. The large violet-headed stork (Ciconia 
leucocephala), called " Padre koka '* by the natives, from its 
black plumage and white neck, and the white stork (Anastomus 
oscitans), are common in marshes and about the northern tanks, 
stalking along their margins, eating the large snails found 
there. The first of them is named the " beef-steak bird " in 
India, its flesh resembling the British dish.^ 

Ibises — are chiefly found about the northern tanks, living on 
fish, snails, frogs and other small reptiles. The white-headed 
ibis (Tantalus leucocephalus, Forst.), having a red feather in the 
tail, is usually seen in flocks. Geronticus melanocephalus re- 
sembles the sacred bird of Egypt (T. religiosa), having a black 
head. Many reasons haye been assigned for the veneration of 
the ibis by the Eg}^ptians. Herodotus says it was because they 
destroyed winged serpents. M. Savigny says they venerated 
the bird on account of its announcing by its arrival the over- 

* The following strange statement appears in Figuier's work on birds — " Caaao- 
wtLTies (StnUhio casuarius, Linn.), are plentiful in the vast forests of Ceylon," 
£ng. Trans., p. 39. 


flowing of the Nile. According to Bruce the Arabs of the pre- 
sent day call them "Abu hannes," or " father John/' fromtlieir 
generally making their appearance on the Nile about St. John's 
day. Maurice, in his appendix to the " Ruins of Babylon," 
gives some very far-fetched reasons for this veneration. 

Scolopacidce, — Many varieties of this family fi'equent the sea- 
shores and marshes, picking up worms and small marine grubs. 
Among them are curlews, sand-pipers, long-shanks, and green- 
shanks. The broad-billed limosa (Limicola plaiyrhyncha) is 
found all over the island, where mud and water are to be had. 
The brown-banded whimbrel (Numeniris plueopus) is considered 
equal to wood-cock {Scolopax rusticola), which are rarely 
seen in Ceylon. At Newera Ellia, and the higher regions, 
snipe come down with the north-east monsoon, being found 
after the rains in marshy places. In the rice -fields and swam2>s 
of the lower country they are much more numerous. During 
the great heat of mid-day they retire into the woods that border 
the marshes. Several species are found in the island but the 
Indian snipe (G, stenura), which is abundant everywhere, is the 
only one positively identified. 

The tlJhinese jacana {Hydrophasiamis Sinensis), a species of 
screamer, called " balla-saara " by the natives, is a curious 
bird, with long, thin legs, very abundant about tanks, and some 
are found near Colombo. They fly strong, rising high in the 

The Ceylon rail {Porzana Zeylanica) arrive with the N.E. 
monsoon in numbers, quite exhausted from fatigue, many 
dropping on the ground. It is uncertain where they come 
from. Several varieties of rails and water-hens abound. ** The 
red-tailed gallinule {Gallinula phoenicura), as described by 
Jerdon, in India appears to differ from that in Ceylon, which 
has a green bill, brown iris, yellow legs, white face and fore- 
head, resembling the Malay sj^ecies." 

Ansercs, — Small flocks of scarlet flamingos {Pluenicopterxis 
ruber) are seen about the north-eastern shores and lagoons, 
and are said to be migratory, arriving in November. Their 
general plumage is a very pale rose-colour, and tlie under \}x\\i 
of tlie wings are crimson, but are only seen to advantage when 

BIRDS. 169 

flying. They have a habit of stalking through swamps in 
single file, at regular distances from each other, in pursuit of 
fish, and beat the air with a very loud noise as they rise on the 
wing. Mr. Layard says the Tamils call them " Inglis koka," 
their red plumage resembling the dress of English soldiers. 

Sir E. Tennent implies that they breed in trees, but other 
naturalists say they make a pyramidal nest of mud on the 
ground. Jerdon knows of no instance where they nidificate in 
India, and it is doubtful they do in Ceylon. However, it is 
said they breed at Hambantotta.^ According to Pliny flamin- 
gos' tongues were a Roman luxury. 

The well-known snake-necked bird of India {Plotus melnno- 
garter), a kind of darter, is common on the tanks, as well as the 
dwarf shag {Oraculus pygmceus), called " dia kawa " by the 
natives, and the lesser cormorant (G. Sinensis), having a black 
head and neck, with bronze-coloured back and wings. 

Vast flocks of gargany teal (Querquedula circia), are found 
on the low grounds about Jaflfna, arriving during the North- 
East monsoon. Great numbers of them are shot by the 
natives, with the aid of buffaloes, " who are trained for the 
sport, by means of a couple of ropes attached to their horns, 
answering the purpose of reins, a slight pull turning the 
animal right or left. The shooter thus guides him forward, 
keeping on the off'-side until he gets quite near his game, when 
he rests his rusty musket on the buffalo's back, and fires." ^ 
Other kinds of water-fowl are shot in the same way. 

The little grebe (Podiceps Philippensis) is found on tanks and 
rivers in small parties, living on fish and snails. The Indian 
hooded gull (Xema hrunnicephalm) , and the gidl-billed tern 
{Gehchelidon Anglicus), are common on the sea-shore all round 
the island. The orange-billed tern (Seena aurantui) is found 
in vast flocks, and the Atagen Ariel is occasionally seen oft* 
the coasts. This is the frigate-bird of the mariners, which 
hovel's over vessels in the tropical seas at immense altitudes for 
days together, being j^ossessed of amazing power of wing and 

» Nat. CVy., \k 2G4 ; Jerdon, Birds of Ind., voL ii. 777. 
2 Layard, Aun. Nat. Hist., 1854, \t\\ 268, 2tjy. 



The Oriental pelican {P. Orientalis) is common on the 
eastern coast, although their favourite haunts in the day-time 
are salt marshes and mouths of rivers. They leave them in the 
evenings to roost inland, making their nests, which are nearly 
flat and rudely formed of sticks, among the lower branches of 
tall trees on the sides of lagoons and tanks, and generally con- 
tain three eggs. Some ornithologists say, although they are the 
only web-footed birds who can roost in trees, they do not make 
their nests in them. 

Pelicans have greyish-white plumage and large bills, the 
under one being furnished with a pouch in which they carry 
fish ; when these are well filled with prey they retire to some 
quiet place to eat them at their leisure. 

List of Cetlon Birds. 

The great majority of the names in this list are taken from that of E. L. 
Layard, CCS., and Dr. Kelaart. Those marked * are up to the present peculiar 
to the island ; the additions and new species are indicated by f, and those rarely 
seen or doubtful by %< 

Aquila bonelli, Temm, (NisaetuB 
bonelli of Holdsworth's list) 
pennata, Om, 

Limnaetus cristatelus, Temm. (Spi- 
zaetus limnaetus, Hcrsf, of La- 
yard's list,) a spotted hawk 

Nipalensis, Hodg. (Spizaetus Ni- 
palensis of Layard*s list.) 

Neopus Malayensis, Rmw. (Ictinaetus 
Malayensis of Layard*s list,) the 
black Malay eagle. 

Spilomis bacha, Daud. (Hsematomis 
cheela, Lalh. of Layard's list. ) 
fPandion halia^tus, Linn. (In Lord 
Walden's collection, Holds- 
worth.) The osprey. 

Pontoaetus leucogaster, Gm^ (Polio- 
aetus leucogaster of Holds- 
worth's list. } 
ichthyaetus, liars/. (Polioaetus 
ichthyaetus of Holdsworth.) 

Haliastur indus, BocUL 
fPemis ptilorichynchus, Temm. (P. 
cristata, Jerd. from Holds- 
Milvus govinda, Sykes. 
Falco peregrinus, Om. 
perigrinator, Stind, 
HjTpotriorchis chicquera, Daud. of 
Layard's list, probably mistaken 
for H. severus, Horsf., Holds- 
Tinnunculus alaudarius, Briss. 
fButeo tdesertorum, Daud. 
Baza lophotes, Cuv, The coney falcon. 

Elanus melanopterus, Daud., a black- 
winged kite found in the hills, 
an African species. 

Astur triyirgatus, Temm. 

Micron Lsus badius, Om. (Accipiter 
badius of Layard's list.) 

Aocipiter virgatus, Temm., a hawk 
with dark blue bill and yellow 



feet (only one specimen of A. 
nisus, Linn., a black and red 
kite of Nepaul, entered in 
KeUart*s list, has been seen in 
the island. 
Circus Swainsonii, Smith, 
cinerascens, Mont. 
melanoleuciis, G-m. 
tseruginosus, Linn., a species of 
moor buzzard, probably migrates, 
very rare. 
* Athene castanotns, Blyth, 
{Athene brama, Tem7n,, added by 

by Jerdon. 
fNinox hirsuta, Temm., added by 
Holdsworth ; this appears to be 
the Athene scutulata, Haf., a 
hairy owl of Layard's list, J. A. S. 
Beng., xiv. 186. 

t Ephialtes scops, Linn, (a small 
ashy grey owl found in the 
mountains, not seen by Holds- 
sunia, Hodg.y small reddish eared 

lempijii, Jlorsf. Bakkamuna, 
Ketupa Ceylonensis, Gm. 
fHuhua pectoralis, Jerd. 
Syniium ind ranee, Graij. 
Strix Javanica, Gm. Indica, Blyth. 
Batrachostomusmoniliger, Za^arcf, the 
Ceylon frog mouth. 
tCaprimulgus atripennis, Jerd. 
Kclaartii, Blyth. 
Asiaticos, Lath. 
Cypselus batassiensis. Gray. 

melba, ^'nn., a large white-bellied 

swift, found in the mountains, 
affinis, Gray. 
Dendrochelidon coronatus, Tickel. 
(Macropteryx coronatus of La- 
yard's list, a migratory crested 
swift. ) 
CoUocalia nidifica. Gray. 
jAcanthylis caudicuta, Laih. 
Uirundo erythropygia, Sykes, (H. 
daurica of Layard. ) 
rustica, Linn. 
hyperythra, Layard. 

Hirundo domicola, Jerd. 
Ijipanayana, Gm. 

Coracias Indica, Linn. (The Indian 
roller, found in the north.) 

Harpactes fasciatus, Gm. The faci- 
ated trogon, a crimson-breasted 
bird, found on high trees in the 

EurystomuB orientalis, the oriental 
roller, a rare bird with green and 
azure plumage. 

Pelargopsis gurial, Pears. (Halcyon 
capensis of Layard's list.) 

Halcyon smyrnensis, Linn. 

pileata, Bodd. the black-capi)ed 
kingfisher, H. atricapillus, (?m., 
of Layard, a rare bird only found 
at Jaffna. 

Ceyx tridactyla. Pall. 
Alcedo Bengalensis, Gm. 
Ceryle rudis, Linn. 

t Hydrocissa coronata, Bodd., added 
by Holdswortl^ P. Z. S., 1872. 
Merops Philippinus, Linn., blue- 
tailed, the largest of the bee- 
viridis, Linn. 
quinticolor, Keill. 
Upupa nigrii)ennis, Grn. 

Nectarinia Zeylanica, Linn. 
minima, Sykes. 
Asiatica, Lath. 

lotenia, Linn, (purple and browns 
long-billed, very numerous). 
Phyllornis Malabarensis, Lath. 
:taurifron8, Temm. (only in Dr. Ke- 
laart's list). 
Jerdonii, Blyth. 
Dendrophila frontalis, Ilarsf. 

Piprisoma agile, Blyth^ a rare bird, 
bill and legs dun, olive and 
brown plumage. J. A. S. Beng.,. 
xiii. 395. 

Dicseum minimum, Tick. 
t* Prionochilus vincens. P. Z. S., 
1872, p. 729. 

Orthotomus longicauda, Gm. 

Cisticola schoenicola, Bonap, 



*Dryinoipus valida, BlytK (Drymoica 
valida of Layard. ) 

fjerdonii, £lyUi, added by Holds- 

inornata, Sykes^ common in 
marshes, making nests among 

Prinia socialis, Blyth^ found in paddy 
fields about Jaffna ; a variety is 
described by Mr. Legge, P. Z. S., 
1870, p. 678. 

Acrocephalus dumetorum, Blyth. 
(Phyllopueuste montanus of La- 
yard, a greenish mountain bird 
from NepaL 

Phylloscopus nitidus, LcUh. Phyllo- 
pueuste nitidus, BlytJi, of La- 

:2:viridanus, Blyth, in Layard's list 


Copsychus saularis, Linru 

Kittacincla macroura, Chn, 

t Copsychus Ceylonicus, Sclattr, 

Pratincola caprata, Linn,^ the[red,[hill 
atrata, Kela. 

Larvivora Cyanea, ffodg. (Calliope cy- 
an ca of Layard, a blue wood- 
chat, migrates from NepaL 

Thamnobia fiilicata, Linii, 

Cyanecula suecica, Linn,, a blue- 
necked warbler. 

I^Sylvia afi&nis, Blyth, 

Varus cinereus, Vieill. 

Zostcrops palpebrosus, Tanm. 

f Ceyloncnsis, Holds, Z. aunulosus 
of Kelaart 
lora Zeylanica, Qm, 
typhia, Linn, 

Motacilla sulphurea, Becks, ; Calo- 
bates siilphurea, Holds. 

Limonidromus indicus, Gm. (Mota- 
cilla indica, Layard's list.) 

X Motacilla madraspatana, Briss., 

Budytos viridis, Gm., green wagtail 

Corydalla Richardi, VieiU. (Aiitluis 
Richardi of Layard's list, a 

rufulus, Vieill. A. rufulus of 

striolatus, Blyth. 

* Brachypteiyx Palliseri, BlytJi, a deep 

*Alcippe nigrifrons, Blyth. 

Pitta brachyura, Jcrd. 

Oreocincla spilopteiti, Blyth. 

mlgircnsis, Blyth. Zoothera im- 
bricata of Tennent's list. 

Turdulus Wardii, Jerd, (Morula 
Wardii of Layard. ) 
Kinnesii (Morula Kinnesii, Kela- 
of Layard). 
*tArrenga Blighii, a new bird added 
by Holdsworth, discovered in 
1867. The head and shoulders 
are a deep blue and the rest 
black ; found in high mountains 
among dense jungles. Allied to 
A. cyanea, Horsf, 

Dumetia albogularis, Blyth. 

Oriolus melanocephalus, Linn. 
^Indicus, Sykes. 

*Garrulax cinereifrons, Blyth. 

•Pomatorhinus melanurus, Blyth. 
Malacocercus striatus, Swain, Holds- 
worth says the true M. grisuus 
is not found in Ceylon as en- 
tered in Layard's list. 

*Layardia rufescciis, Blyth. A new 
genus, M. rufescens of Layard, 
J. A. S. B., xvi. 453, Holds- 

*Drymocataphu8 fuscocapillum, Blyth. 
(Pillomeum fuscocapillum of 
Pyctorhis Sinense, Gm, (Chrysomma 
Sinense of Iiayard,a white-bellied 
babbler. ) 
Criniger ictericus, Strick., olive green. 

Kelaartia x>ehicillatus, Blyth. A new 
genus P. penicillatus of Kelaart. 

Ixos luteolus, LcMs. P. ilavirictust 
Strick, of Layard. 



Pycnoiiotns haemorrhous, Gin. 

Hypsipetes ganessa, Sykes, H. Nil- 
ghericnsis of Layard, the black 
Nilgherry bulbul. 

fRubigula aberans, Blyth, Jerdon adds 
this bird to the avifauna of Cey- 
lon, ed 1862. 
fmelanictera, Gm. Holdsworth says 
this bird is peculiar to Ceylon 
and not uncommon in the lower 
country ; it is an olive brown on 
the back and yellow underneath. 
This seems to be R. gularis, 
Pycnonotus nigricapillus, Drap, 
atricapillus, VieiU. 

Hemipus picatus, Horsf. These three 
are omitted by Holdsworth. 

Cyoniis rubiculoides, Vigors, 
fJerdonii, Gray. C. banyumas. 
Horsf. f added by Holdsworth. 

*tGlancomyias sordida, Lord Waldcru 
*tGeocichla lAyardii, idem, 
Myiugra ca.'nila, Bodd. 
Myialestos cinereocapilla, Vicill. 
Cryptoloj)ha cinereocapilla, 

Blytfif of Layard. 

Lencoccrca comi>ressirostris, Blyifiy 
narrow-billed flycatcher, a var. 
of L. aureola. Less. 

Tchitrea paradisi, Linn. 

ItButalis latirostris, Jinjf. rauttui, 
Layaril. Alsconax ferrugineus, 
Pcricrocotus perigrinus, Linn. 
flummeus, Forst. 
fOchromela nigrorufa, Jerd. 

Erythn)stema leucura, G711. E. hy- 
perythra of HoMswurth. 

Canipepliaga Macei, Livn, 

Sykesii, Strick. These two arc 
omitted in Holdsworth's list 
Qy. his Graucalus pusillus, Bbj. 

Artiinius fuscus, Vicill. 

*Di(ruius edoliformis, Blyth. Disse- 
murus lophorhiuus, Vieill. of 
longicaudatus, Hay. 

♦ Dicninis leucopygialis, Blyth. 
+co3rulescen8, Linn. 
minor, Blyth. D. macrocercus, 
Vieill. of Layard. Mr. Holds- 
worth says this large Indian spe- 
cies was mistaken for D. minor, 
one of the Drongo shrikes. 

Edolius paradiscus, Gm, Dissemurus 
malabaricus. Scop, of Holds- 
worth, the long-tailed bringa of 
Ircna puella. Lath, 

Lanius cristatus, Linn. L. superci- 

liosus of Layard mistaken for it. 

erythronotus, Vigors^ rufous-backed 


Tephrodomis affinis, Bly, 

tHemipuH picatus, Sykes, added by 

tVolvocivora Sykesii, ^iricA:., added by 

tGraucalus Layardi, Blyth. 
*Cissa omata, Wagkr. C. puella, 
Blyth of Layard, Holdsw. 
Corvus spleiideus, Vieill. 

culrainatus, Sykcs. 
Eulabes religiosa, Linn. 
♦ptilogenys, Blyth, J. A. S. Beng., 
XV. 81. 
Pastor roseus, Linn, 
Heticromis pagodorium, Gm. The 
pagoda starling Temenuchus of 
Temenuchus Si*nex, Tcmm. H. albi- 

frontata of Layard. 
Acridotheres tristis, Linn. 
Ploceus baya, Blyth, said to be mi- 
striatus, Blyth, an Indian weaver- 
bird. P. manyar of Layard. 
Munia undulata, Lath., a reddish 
spotted finch. 
Malabarica, Linn., hrovno ditto, 
nibronigra, Hodgs, 
Malacca, Linn., a black-headed 

striata, Linn. 

Kelaartii, Blyth, a deep brown 
finch, almost identical with Jer- 
don's M. pcctoralis. 



tEstrelda amandava, Linn, 
Passer Indicus, Jerd. 
Alauda giUgula, Frank. 

Malabarica, Scop. 
Pyrrhulauda grisea, Seop. 
Myrafra affinis, Jerd,, the Madras 

bush-lark, common at Aripo. 
Buceros gingalensis, Shaw. Tocus 
gingalensis of Holdaw. 
Malabaricus, Jerd., also called B. 
*Loriciilus Asiaticus, Laih. Indieus, 

Palseomis Alexandri, lAiim. 
torquatus, Briss. 
cyanocephalus, Linn., omitted by 

Calthropse, Layard. 
frosa, 5oeW., added by Holdsworth. 
Megalaima Indica, Lair. (Xantho- 
lama Indica of Holdsworth. 

Megalaima Zeylanica, Qm. 
♦flavifrons, Quv., the yellow fronted 

•mbicapilla, Om. 
Picus gymnophthalmus, Blyth. Yun- 
gipicus gymnophthalmus of 
Holdsworth's list. 
IjMaharattensis. Laih., a yellow 
fronted woodpecker, back and 
wings black. 
Gecines chlorophanes, Vieill. Chry- 
sophlegma chlorophanes of 
Brachyptemus anrantins, Linn, 

Ceylonicns, Pcrst. 
*Stricklandii, Layard. 
tpuncticoUis, Matk. Holdsworth 
adds this bird to the Ceylon avi- 
fauna, golden -backed with white 
dots on the neck. 
Micropternus gularis, Jerd,, an olive 
green, ground woodpecker. 

tChrysocoloptea festivus, Bodd., in 
Lord Walden's collection, black 
back and golden wings. 
Centropus rufipenuis, llltger, 
*chlororhynchus, Blyth. 

Coccystes jacobinus, Bodd. Oxylo- 
phus melanolencos, Oni., of 
Layard's list, the pied- crested 
jCoromandus, Linn. , Oxylophus 
Coromandus of Layard, reddish 

Eudynamys oricntalis, Linn. 

JCuculus poliscephalus, Latli. , an ashy- 
headed small species, micropte- 
rus, Gould, of Kelaart. 
canorus, Linn. 

Jstriatus Drapiez, omitted by Holds- 
worth. Qy. his P. Sonneratti. 
Polyphasia tenuirostris, Gray. 

{Sonneratii, Lath., a banded bay. 
jCuculus xanthorhynchos, fforsf. 
JHierococcyx varius, Vahl., bill green, 
iris yellow, feet yellow. 
Sumiculus dicruro'ides. Hodgs., fork- 
tailed, bill and feet black, iris 
•Phcenicophaeus pyrrhocephalus, Forgt. , 
iris brown, feet leaden. 
Zanclostomus viridirostris, Jerd., a 
green-billed malkoha, common 
in the south ; this seems to be 
only a variety of the above, iris 
red, feet dark leaden. 
fTaccocua Lesclienaultii, Less., added 
by HoMsworth, bill red, tip 
yellow, irides reddish. 
Osmotreon bicincta, Jerd. Treron 
bicincta of Layard's list, 
flavogularis, Blyth, 
*Pompadoura, Om. 
Crocopus chlorogaster, Blyth, Trcron 
chlorogaster of Layard. 

*Carpophaga Torringtonia, Kela. Pa- 
lumbus Torringtonia of Holds- 
sylvatica, Tick. C. pusilla, Blyth, 
of Layard. 

Alsocomus punicus, Tickel. 

Columba intermedia, Strick., the In- 
dian rock-pigeon. 

Turtur risorius, Linn. 

Suratensis, Latli., a speckled 



JTurtur humilifl, Temm., arose-coloured 
dove of Layard, omitted by 
rupicola, Pall., erroneously en- 
tered as Turtnr orientalis, Lath. 
in Layard's list. 
Chalcophaps Indiciis, Linn, 
Pavo cristatus, Linn, 
*Oallus Lafayetti, Less. 

*Galloperdix bicalcaratus, Linn, 

Francolinus Ponticerianus, Gm., orty- 
gomis Ponticerianus of Holds- 

Perdicula Asiatica, Lath, 

Cotumix Chinensis, Linn., Excalfac- 
toria Chinensls of Holdsworth. 

Tumix taigoor, ISykes., var., the In- 
dian hill quaiL 

Esacus recurvirostria, Cuv., the curved 
bill sandpiper. 

(Edicnemus crepitans, Tern., the thick- 
kneed plover. 

Cursorius Coromandelicus, Gm., the 
Coromandel courser. 

Lobivanellus bilobus, Gm., Sarciopho- 
rus bilobus of Holdsworth. 
Goensis, Gm^ 

Charadrius fulvus, Gm. C. longipes, 
Ttmm., apud, Jerd., an ash-co- 
loured plover. Layard's C. vir- 
ginicus, Becks, 

Hiaticula philippensis, Scop., small 
sand plover, ^galitis dubius of 
{cantianus, Lath., very similar to 
the next. 

.£galitis Mongolicus, Pail., Hiaticula 
Leschenaultii, Less., of Layard 
mistaken for it, migrates to isle 
in N.E. monsoon, bill black, 
irides dark brown, legs grey. 
Strepsialis interpres. Linn. 
fChettnsia gregaria. Poll., a single spe- 
cimen was shot on the Galleface 
Colombo by Holdsworth. 

Ardea purpurea, Linn, 
cinerea, Linn, 
intei media, Wagl, Herodias egret- 

toides of Holdsworth, the ashy 
Ardea Asha, Sykes, 
garzetta, Linn, 
alba, Linn. 

bubulcus, Sarig. Buphus Coro- 
mandelus, Bodd, of Holdsworth. 
Ardcola leucoptera, Bodd. 
Ardetta cinnamomea, t?m. 

flavicollis, LcUh., yellow-necked 

heron or black bittern. 
Sinensis, Gm, 
Butoroides Javanica, Horsf, 
Platalea leucorodia, Linn, 

Nycticorax griseus, Linn. 

Tigrisonia melanolopha. Raff. Goisa- 
chus melanolopha of Holda- 
worth*s list 

Mycteria Australis, Shaw, 

l^ptoptilus Javanica, Temm-, 

Ciconia leucocephala, Gm, C. episco- 
pus, Bodd. 

Anastomus oscitans, Bodd, 

Tantalus leucocephalus, ForsL 

Geronticus melanocephalus, Lalh, 
Threskiomis melanocephalus of 

Falcinellus igneus, Gm, The glossy 
ibis or black curlew. 

Numenius lineatus, Cuv, N. arquatus, 
Linn, of Layard mistaken for it. 
The common curlew, 
phaeopus, Linn., the brown whim- 

Totanus fuacus, Linn,, the long red- 
shanked spotted whimbreL 
calidris, Linn., a red-shanked 

glottioidea, Linn,, the Indian green 

Totanus stagnalis. Becks., the little 
green shank. 

Actitis glareola, Gm,, the swallowtail 
ochropus, Linn,, a green sand- 
hj'poleucos, Linn., the common 

Tringa minuta, Liesi., a dwarf sand- 
piper or little stint ; it seems to 



differ from the Indian little stint, 
T. subminuta, Jerd.^ p. 875. 
Tringa suharqiiata, Om.^ the curlew 

Jfsalina, Pall,^ found by Holds- 
worth at Aripo, 1870. 
platyrhyncha, Temm,, Umicola 
of Layard. 
JLimosa segocephala, i^nn., mentioned 
by Layard, the black-tailed 
fTerekia cinerea,^wi., found in a swamp 
near Aripo, 18C9, by Holds- 
Himantopus autumnalis, ffass., the 
long-legged plover. 

Rccurvirostra avocetta; Linn. The 
curved-billed avocetta arrives 
in N.£. monsoon. 

Hscmatox^us ostralcgus, ZmTu, the 

Bhynchsea Bengalensis, Linn., painted 

Scolopax rusticola, Linn, 

Gallinago stenura, Temm. 

{scolopacina, Bonap,, the common 

English snipe. 
IgalUuula, Linn.f the jack snipe. 

Hydrophasianus Sinensis, Cfm. 

Rallus striatus, Linn., the striped 
Indicus, Blytk, the Indian water- 
Porphyrio poliocephalus, Lath., the 
purple coot 
JPorzana pygmsea, ATxn. , the pigmy rail 
{fusca, Linn,, brown land rail; this 
seems to be the same as Ortygo- 
metra rubiginosa, Tenim. of La- 
Zeylanica, Cfm,, also named Bal- 
lina Ceylonica, Corethura Zey- 
lanica of Tennent*s list. 
Gallinula pha>nicura, ForsL 

chloropus, Linn., the common 
water-hen, gallicrex of Holds- 

cristata, Lath., crested water-hen. 

Phajnicopterus ruber, Linn. 

Sarkidiomis melanonotus, Pcnn., the 
royal duck. 

Nettapus Coromandelianus, Gm., C'o- 
romandol teal, Anserella Coro- 
mand. of Holdsworth. 

Anas p8ecilor])hyncha, Pcnn,, spotted 

Dendrocygnus arcuatus, Cur., whist- 
ling duck. 

Dafila acuta, Linn., pin-tailed duck. 

Marca Penelope, Linn., the widgeon. 

Qucrquedula crecca, Linn,, the com- 
mon teaL 
circia, Linn, 

Fuligula ruiina, Linn., red-crested 

Spatula clypeata, Lmn., the shoveller 

Poiliceps Philippensis, Gm. 

Xenia brunnicephalus, /<;rrf.,Ijaurus — 
of Layard. 

Sylochelidon Caspius, Lath., the Cas- 
pian tern. 

Croicocephalus ichthyaetus. Pall., 
Laurus ichthyaetus of I^yani. 

Ilydrochelidon Indicus, Slcph., H. 
leucopareia. Matt,, of Holds- 

Gelochelidon Anglicus, Mont, 

{Onychoprion anaesthsetus, Scop., a 
kind of tern. 

{Sterna Javanica^ Horsf., common on 
tanks, as seen by Layard, omit- 
ted by Holdsworth. 
melanogaster, Temin,, black- 
breasted tern. 
Sinensis, Gm , S. minuta of La- 
yard mistaken for it 
Jtgracilis, Gould, one shot by 
Holdsworth at Colombo, 1869. 
fnigra, Linn., added by Holds- 
worth, a tern new to the Indian 
Seena auraiitia. Gray. 

Thalasseus Bengalensis, Lfss. , T. me- 
dius, Horsf. of Holdsworth. 
cristata, Slcph. , a tern. 
{Dromus ardeoln, Payk., a sea tern. 



Atagen ariel, Chuldf A. aquila, Linn, 
fPhaetoa rubicauda, BocUL. the red- 
tailed tropic bird, occasionally 
seen off the coast. 
fSula fiber, Linn.^ the booby of ma- 
riners, added by Holdsworth. 
Plotus melanogaster, Chn,, Thalaasi- 
droma of Layard. 

Pelicanus orientalis, Linn, 

Oraculus sinensis, Shaw, 

pygmseus, PaU, This seems to be 
O. javanicns, Honf,^ of Holds- 

Thalassidroma pelagica, the stormy 
petrel, seen at sea off Galle and 
Colombo in bad weather. 

▼OL. II. 



Emydosauri. — Crocodiles, erroneously called alligators by 
the Europeans, swarm in the rivers, lakes, marshes, and 
lagoons of the lower country, but are not found in the higher 
parts. The crocodile is a lazy animal, naturally fond ofhot mud, 
and most at home in a steaming pestiferous swamp or sedgy 
bank of a river among mangrove trees, where he lies basking in 
the sun, and may be called the scavenger of the tropical river, 
delighting in the putrid carcasses of animals that float down tlie 
stream and ai'e thrown on the slimy delta, being useful in 
eating what might otherwise create a pestilence. Although he 
prefers putrid flesh, he has no objection to a live animal, 
lying in wait in deep pools under a river bank for deer or 
other animals who come to drink, and occasionally devours a 
native incautiously bathing, or whom he can sui'prise in any 
way ; he will also eat tortoises ; and bricks and stones have 
been found in their stomachs. 

Le Brun^ relates a story of a crocodile taken b}' the Dutch 
that had devoured at different times thirty-two people. Al- 
though so large and voracious, the crocodile is essentially a 
coward and easily finghtened, especially on shore, usually 
running at the approach of man to the water, where he is 
alone formidable or dangerous, any person or animal faUing 
into the water in their vicinity behig pounced upon at once. 
They often crawl along the sedgy bottoms of shallow rivers, 
occasionally rising to the surface and float about, with only 
the head partly above water, looking at a distance like a piece 
of wood with a rough bark. Towards the end of the monsoon, 

* Lo Bruu's Travels, ii. 82. 

RErTILES. 179 

when the haunts of those who frequent the tanks and marshes 
dry up, some bury themselves in the mud until the rains 
soften the earth, and release them from their imprisonment ; 
others wander about into jungles and even approach habita- 
tions in search of water, the pangs of thirst overcoming their 
natural timidity. Many get to the larger rivers, where they 
remain until the rain enables them to return to their old 
haunts. Knox, no bad authority, says, ** the alligators leave 
the ponds when they dry up for rivers and woods, and return 
again during the rains." 

Dr. Kelaart says there are two species of crocodiles in 
Ceylon, one frequenting the tanks and marshes (C. palus- 
iris), the mugga or Goa marsh crocodile, and the other found 
in the mouths of rivers and lagoons. There is not much dif- 
ference in their appearance, only the marsh species is smaller, 
being about thirteen feet long and a paler colour ; it is also 
comparatively harmless. The river crocodile, " Allie Kim- 
bola " of the natives, is a formidable animal, attaining a length 
of seventeen or eighteen feet. They are web -footed, with four 
toes, and the tail is flattened like an oar. Their teeth fit into 
each other, something like those of a rat-trap, and the eyes 
are close together and parallel when closed. Crocodiles are 
said to lay from eighty to one hundred and fifty eggs, which 
are deposited at the edges of rivers or tanks, and either buried 
in the sand or piled up in a heap and covered with mud, 
where they are hatched by the heat of the sun, and are about 
the size of a goose egg, with an earthy brittle shell and a very 
thick and tough interior membrane, resembling in this respect 
those of lizards and turtles. It does not appear to have been 
explained to which of the Indian species the river crocodile of 
Ceylon belongs, but it has no resemblance to the gavial of the 
Ganges, a variety differing from all others. 

They afford little amusement to a sportsman, and the places 
they infest are full of malaria. Sir S. Baker says, " their 
skins are not so impervious to a ball as is supposed, and that 
a shot between the eyes will finish them.'* ^ But the weapons 
he used shoot hai'der than the old guns, which made very little 

» ** Rifle and Hound," p. 47. 

N 2 


impression on them ; being so tenacious of life they are said to 
have crawled away after having been disembowelled and left for 
dead. Sir Robert Horton, when Governor of Ceylon, tried in 
1888 to catch some in a tank at Aripo, wdth a strong drag-net 
heavilj' loaded at the bottom, but when the net was drawn 
across it was found empty, the crocodiles had escaped by 
sinking into the mud. 

Fishing for crocodiles is sometimes practised as an amuse- 
ment, ** the hook is baited with a piece of flesh and attached 
to a hank of fine cords, which getting between their teeth 
they cannot gnaw it asunder, as they would a single rope. 
This is a very ingenious device of the Sinhalese, and answers 
admirably ; when hooked they make a tremendous resistance 
while in the water, keepmg their head above it, having no 
fleshy lips all their teeth are seen, and they knock their 
hideous jaws together with aloud clashing noise; when hauled 
on shore they feign death and lav motionless, the picture of 
abject cowardice, being finaUy despatched with a spear." ^ 
Herodotus describes fishing for crocodiles in the Nile with a 
hook baited with pork ; and Pallegoix^ says they are eaten in 
Siam, but the Siamese are, if possible, more omnivorous than 
the Chinese. 

Saura. Monitors. — There are two varieties of a very large 
amphibious lizard, called ** monitors," from an erroneous idea 
that they gave warning of the vicinity of crocodiles. 

The Monitor draccena, or common iguana, or ** goana " of 
the natives, is very abundant in the maritime provinces, living 
in holes in the earth, eating small reptiles and white ants, 
a harmless but very repulsive-looking creature, about five feet 
long, of a silvery-grey colour. At Trincomalee and Calpentj^n 
the}' are hunted with dogs by the natives, who eat them, being 
sold for sixpence each, and ai'e said to ** make a soup re- 
sembling hare."' The iguana is also eaten in the West 
Indies, where it is considered to be like rabbit. Nicolo di 
Conti mentions their being hunted for food in India, as their 
flesh was highly prized, which explains a strange statement of 

* Tennent, Nat. Hist. ' Trav. in Siam. 

s Kelaart, Fau. Zey. p. 147. 


Friar Odoric, who says, '* There are mise as bigge as our 
country dogs, and therefore they ai'e bunted witli dogs because 
cats are not able to encounter them." 

The streaked-face lizard {Hydro8Q,urus salvator)} kabara- 
godho of the Sinhalese, is a much larger species, attaining a 
length of six feet, found in the interior near marshes and 
muddy places, taking to the water when pursued ; they have a 
dark band along the side of the neck reaching to the eye, 
transverse yellow bands on the body with numerous yellow 
spots between them, long head, tail and toes, and are covered 
with eruptive blotches. An allied species similarly affected, 
found in the Nepal, has been named M. exanthematiciis. On 
the homoeopathic principle the Sinhalese believe that the fat of 
the godho applied externally is a remedy for skin diseases, but 
if taken internally a poison, forming one of the ingredients of 
the ** Kabara tel," but it is evident, from the strange recipe 
for making this poison given by Sir E. Tennent, that the 
arsenic it contains is the real poisoning ingredient, and the 
fat of the lizard only a device to conceal its use. A small 
lizard, called " adda " b}'^ the Arabs {Sinicus officinalis), is 
much praised in Egvpt as a cure for leprosy and elephantiasis. 
An old-fashioned Venetian remedy for diarrhoea and dysenter}' 
is said to' have been made from vipers' livers, and the sand- 
burrowing lizards of Afghanistan when dried are sold all over 
India as a medicine.® 

Sir E. Tennent* says the H. salvator is not foimd in any 
part of the peninsula, or further west than Burmah, and is 
one of the proofs of the affinity between the fauna of Ceylon 
and the Archipelago. Dr. Gray, in his work on Lizards, ed. 
1845, says, ** there is one in the British Museum which came 
from South Africa ; " however this may be, it is certainly, accord- 
ing to Mr. Blyth, a native of the Nicobars and lower Bengal, 
where some have been found seventy-eight inches long, but 
does not belong to the peninsula.* Dr. Cantor also, in his 
catalogue of Malay reptiles, makes it a native of Bengal ; he 

* Monitor elegans, Gray. ' J. A. S. Beng., I860, p. 37. 

' Nat, Hist. CVylou, p. *i75. * J. A. S. Beug., xxix. 108; 


says the lower caste Hindus, who are very fond of their flesh, 
dig them out of the river banks.^ It is said a young one 
was discovered on board a vessel bound from Bombay to 

Scindda, or Seines,^ are a family of snake-like burrowing 
lizards, distinguished by long bodies and tails, with short legs 
and a metallic appearance of skin. The most remarkable is 
the Brahmin lizard (Tiliqua rufescens) of a deep brown-olive 
colour with a pale streak on the side, a common and wide- 
spread species, presenting several varieties. Mabouya elegaiis, 
Gray, is a white streaked seine with a transparent eye-lid. 

There have been recently discovered in the island several 
allied genera, some of which are peculiar to it, while others, as 
the AcontiaSf are of the South African type. Some of these 
strange reptiles resemble the blind- worms or orvet of Europe, 
Anguis fragilis, and are also allied to Cylindrophis and Rhino- 
phU, or burrowing snakes, being less of the lizard and more 
of the snake than other seines, having round bodies with very 
diminutive limbs, or only a trace of them, and what are called 
rostral shields, or a homy covering to their pointed noses, 
which enables them to force their way into the earth ; they ai'e 
usually of a dark brown colom* and a few inches in length. 

Eumeces Taprobanes is a scaly variety, five inches long, a 
brown colour above and yellow below. The genus named 
Nessia, peculiar to Ceylon, have four very feeble limbs, and 
Acontias Layardii, an olive colour with spots, has only a trace 
of limbs. 

Geckoes.— One of the first things that attracts the eye of a new 
arrival in the island is the number of small lizards called geckoes, 
running over the ceilings in the evenings, catching flies, and a 
novice expects every moment to see one drop into some of the 
dishes on the dinner-table ; occasionally one does fall on the 
ground, when part of their tail comes off", remaining wriggling 
on the floor, while its possessor makes his escape with all imagi- 
nable speed, apparently none the worse for the dismemberment, 
a new tail growing in place of the lost one in a few weeks. 

> J. A. S. Bcng., 1846, 1817, 376, p, 636. * Also spelt *• skinks." 


This remarkable peculiarity of the gecko family, who drop 
their tails when they fall, or are hotly pursued, was noticed 
by Pliny (ix. 46). The part that comes off appears to grow 
separate from the stump, and the reproduced tail, which is 
rounder and thicker than the previous one, has no bones. 
Another peculiarity in geckoes is their having a tliick tongue 
and a voice making a chirping noise, a repetition of the word 
** cheecha," the native name for the house gecko (Hemidac- 
tylusfrenatUH), and will respond to an imitation of it, made 
b}^ a person to whom they are familiar; the noise they make 
is considered by the Hindus of evil omen, "a judge once 
frightened a Hindu into telling the truth by saying a gecko 
would answer him when he chirped." ^ 

They are perfectly harmless, and easily tamed and taught 
to come and be fed with rice, and will drink water, lapping it 
up with their tongues. Their eggs are found in holes, and 
under stones about houses ; a slight tap with a stick will break 
the shell, and if nearly hatched from the heat of the sun, out 
comes a young one, which runs off with the greatest rapidity, 
although, perhaps, ushered into the world a little sooner than 
usual. There are many varieties in the island, some frequent- 
ing trees, others roofs of houses, and some ant-hills; the 
majority are nocturnal, having the pupil of the eye contracted 
in a vertical direction like a cat, and have a flat disk or 
sucker on their feet, which enables them to hold on to an 
inverted surface. The different species vary from four to seven 
inches in length, and have a soft fleshy skin of a wann grey or 
chocolate colour, with dark spots or streaks, and cast their 
skins like snakes. A species (Pti/chozoon) found in India flies. 
The tree gecko {Peripia Peronli) varies its colour, sometimes 
having a black hue about the head, and will live for months 
without food in the hollows of trees, where they lay from five 
to six eggs. They are common in the north ; also in the Isle 
of France. 

Gymnodactylus Kandianus is a spiny-backed diurnal species, 
with free claws, peculiar to Ceylon, found in the mountains ; 
also Geckoella punctata, a new and distinct genus, of a cho^o- 

> Kibait, \K 16-J. 


late-brown colour, spotted with white, having five clawed toes 
and no disks.^ 

Agamida. — Eight families of true lizards are found in Cey- 
lon, of which four are peculiar to it — Lyriocephalus, Cerato- 
phora, Cophotis, and Otocryptis. Many of them are subject to 
changes of colour, occasionally varying their ordinary hues. 
The most common of all is one of the Calotes (C versicolor), 
called the "blood-sucker" by the Europeans, a very ill- 
fiavoured, greenish lizard, about twelve inches long, having 
fin-like spines behind the head and shoulders. They are con- 
stantly fighting, throwing each other out of the trees, when 
their heads and necks swell out and turn blood-red, their bodies 
at the same time assuming a pale tint, which appears to be 
caused by the blood rushing towards the head. Nearly all the 
calotes have two rows of spines about the head and shoulders. 
Most of them have large pouches, or gular sacks, hanging imder 
their jaws, and live in holes of trees, where they deposit their 
eggs, preying on flies, beetles, and other insects. 

C. Lioceplialus is a variety peculiar to Ceylon recently dis- 
covered, of a green colour, with dark cross bands, no spines, and 
a small gular sack.^ 

Salea Jerdonii is a rare genus, of a bright green colour, only 
one species being known, also found in Southern India. 

Sitana are a species of lizard easily recognised from having 
only four toes on their hind legs, and of a reddish-brown, which 
changes to deeper hues or pale yellow. The gular sack is tri- 
coloured at particular seasons. They are chiefly found in the 
north of the island. Only two species of Situna are known, 
and are peculiar to Ceylon and Western or Southern India. 
Dr. Gunther doubts if the S. pondiceriana of Cuvier be found 
in Ceylon, as stated by Dr. Kelaart, but a variety, S. minar, 
similar to Jerdon's S. ponticeriana of Southern India. 

The lyre-headed lizard (Lyriocephalus scutatus) is a ver}' re- 
pulsive but harmless reptile, something like a chameleon, of a 
bluish-grey, greenish about the head. The inside of the mouth 
is a bright red. They are about fourteen inches long, and 
found in the interior, and are said to live on rice in captivity. 

* r. Z. S., 1867, Ann. Nat Hist., 1872. « Ann. Nat. Hist, 1872, p. 86. 


In Gray's "Illustrations of Indian Zoology*' (1881), there 
is a drawing of an extraordinary lizard, brought from Ceylon 
many years since by Colonel Stoddart, which belongs to a family 
of horned and snouted lizards called Ceratophora, allied to 
Lyriocephalus, Since then some more varieties of them have 
been discovered in the interior of the island. They have a 
bluish or green hue, marked with dark bands, and change to a 
darker colour when alarmed. One variety, C. Stoddartii, which 
is ten inches long, has a small pointed horn on the end of the 
nose, resembling that of a rhinoceros, but its construction is 
diflferent, being a soft substance covered with a homy sheath, 
and is a smaller size in the female. In another variety, 
C. Tennentiiy the nose is turned up, and prolonged into a flat- 
tened snout. A variety recently discovered, C. aspera, is a 
very small species, only three in'ches long, half of which is tail, 
and the horn exceedingly diminutive. The body is a brown 
colour, with spots.^ 

Otocryptis bivittata, an arboreal lizard, found about Trinco- 
malee, Adam's Peak, and Ratnapura, has a peculiar gular sack, 
something like a dewlap, running under the neck and breast. 
They are an olive colour, with a white band on each side of 
the back, and about ten inches long. There was one some 
years since in the museum at Berlin, but it was not known 
where it came from.^ 

A new genus, or eared lizard, Cophotis Ceylanica, has 
recently been added to the fauna of Ceylon. They are six 
inches long, and covered with imbricated scales, and have a 
comb of spikes along the back. The head is pyramidal, with 
a concealed tympanum, and a brown colour, while the body is 
fawn, with irregular brown bands ; a yellow band runs along the 
upper lip to the shoulder.^ 

The Ceylon chameleon (C. Zeylanums), which Jerdon thinks 
quite distinct from the African (C. vulgaris), is almost con- 
fined to the north of the island, and is not numerous. This 
reptile has a dull and torpid nature, and in its habits resembles 
the sloth, remaining for hours in the same position, moving 

* GuntUer, Reptiles, Brit Ind. - Gray, Lizards, 1845. 

» Ann. Nat. Hist, 1862, p. 410. 


almost imperceptibly and stealthily among trees, where it spends 
most of its time, firmly gras2)ing the trunk with its toes, and 
holds on much by the end of the tail, which it coils round the 
smaller branches. It can, however, dart out its tongue at the 
insects on which it lives with the velocity of lightning. This 
extraordinary member is covered with a slimy substance, to 
which the insects adhere when it touches them. It was sup- 
posed by the ancients^ that the chameleon lived on the air, in 
consequence of the length of time it can remain without food, 
and its peculiar formation has given rise to much speculation. 
The skin is very granular and scaly, and the " rete mucosum," 
or colouring layer, contains two kinds of pigments in deep 
eavities, and i^ movable, which is supposed to cause the 
changes of hue that have so long attracted attention to this 
creature. At times it is a living skeleton, and the skin hangs 
in folds on the frame, giving place to sudden inflations. The 
lungs, as in most lizards, are connected with air cells under the 
skin, which hangs loose on the bones ; according as these cells 
are filled with air the reptile appears thin or bloated. They 
are said to place their eggs in the ground. Not the least extra- 
ordinary part of the chameleon is the eye. 

Ophidia. — Snakes. — Nearly fifty different species of snakes 
have been discovered in Ceylon. About eight frequent trees, 
two ai*e fresh water species, and seven or eight sea snakes. 
The majority are quite harmless. Those alone are poisonous 
who possess perforated fangs, which convey a poisonous fluid, 
secreted in a gland in the head, into the wound. Even the 
possession of fangs does not always prove a snake to be 
poisonous, there being a few exceptions to the rule. 

Non-venomous snakes have two rows of small teeth in the 
upper jaw, with a lesser number in the lower. In venomous 
snakes the outer row of the upper jaw is represented by a 
single fang on each side, with one or two smaller ones to re- 
place the others if they are lost. These reserve teeth lie loose. 
There are also a few small teeth in the front part of the lower 
jaw. From this it will be seen that the poison fangs can grow 


' Pliu., Nat^ Hist., viii. 51. Amtotlc 11. A., 1. u. cxL 


again after being extracted, which was not generally supposed 
to be the case. v 

The fangs are solid bone, formed as it were of a narrow flat 
piece folded over until the edges nearly meet, thus leaving an 
open groove the whole length, through which the poison flows. 
The groove is more open above than below, where it is nearly 
closed. Viperine fangs are larger than colubrine.^ 

Snakes are all carnivorous, eating small reptiles, and ani- 
mals, birds, or eggs ; commonly frogs or mice, and some devour 
their own species. They swallow their prey whole, having a 
remarkable and peculiar power of drawing in small animals, 
and slowly ingulfing tliem. The majority can abstain from food 
for months, and are supposed to be very long lived. Some 
ophidia are viviparous and others oviparous. Colubrine snakes 
are oviparous, except the Hydrophis and Homalopsidae, which 
are viviparous, producing from four to sixteen young. 

In oviparous snakes the young are in eggs with a soft shell, 
which are hatched in sand and other places. Viviparous snakes 
bring forth their young alive from eggs which are hatched in 
the oviduct, the eggs bursting before parturition. The young 
of both species are in full activity immediately after birth. In 
order that her eggs may be hatched, the female viperine basks 
in the sun some time before parturition to increase her tempera- 
ture. Female snakes ai*e usually larger than the males. 

There are four poisonous snakes in Ceylon — the cobra 
{Naja tripudians), the tic-polonga {Dabaia Russellii), the cara- 
walla {TrigonocephaliLs hypnale), and the green carawalla 
(Trimeresurus trigonocephabis). The two last are supposed not 
to be fatal to man. There is some doubt whether a fifth, the 
Bungarus CeylonicuSf should not be added. The sea snakes 
are also all venomous, but the fresh water species are harmless. 

The fort of Colombo is generally free from these dangerous 
reptiles, but they are often found in houses of the suburbs, and 
are very numerous at Kandy and other places. It is a happy 

^ The above rlcflcription of snakes' fangs is taken from Dr. Fayrer's elaborate 
work on the "Thanatophida of India." He differs from Dr. Davy, who describes 
snakes* fangs as being quite solid at the point, the longitudinal groove in the side 
ending a little above it, which is the case sometimes. 


provision of nature that generally speaking venomous snakes 
are very unwilling to bite. Cobras domesticate themselves in 
the vicinity of houses and native huts, but their chief impulse 
being concealment they get out of the way as soon as possible, 
and only bite when trodden on or greatly irritated, and, being 
partly nocturnal in their habits, the majority of accidents from 
them occur in this way. It is probable they are able to dis- 
criminate and know the faces of persons they are continually 
seeing, and may possess a certain amount of affection for the 
jugglers who carry them about for exhibition, and that it is a 
knowledge of this in the cobra that makes the Indian snake 
men select them, and rely more on this feeling and daring than 
any of the devices that have been attributed to them as pre- 
ventives, such as antidotes, or extracting the fangs and poison. 
They never bite the snake men unless provoked by some unac- 
customed familiarity or rough treatment, and as there have 
been some cases in Ceylon where these men have died from the 
effects of their bites, it is a proof that the poison was not 

Snake men frequently visit Ceylon from India, as the Sinha- 
lese never engage in this business. They carry the snakes 
about on their heads, coiled up in round soft baskets with a 
cap-shaped lid, and draw the reptiles out of their holes by sit- 
ting on the ground before it playing a pipe. After a time the 
cobra comes forth and erects itself before the man. Nothing 
can exceed the nerve and audacity they display in seizing the 
snake. Their usual manner is to catch them by the tail witli 
one hand when at full length, keeping them at arm's length, at 
the same time pressing the snake's head on the ground with a 
stick held in the other hand, they then place one foot on the 
cobra's body, and seize it round the neck with the hand which 
held the tail. 

The Sinhalese have a great dread of a cobra, not only on 
account of its bite but from a superstitious feeling, origi- 
nating in snake worship. They, as weU as the Hindus, display 
an unwillingness to kill them outright, and if they wish to get 
rid of one, they place it alive in a bag and throw it into a river, 
thus giving it a chance of escape. Sii* E. Teunent says, ** Tliey 


have a legend that some cobras have a valuable gem in their 
stomachs, but those possessing them are rare, perhaps one in 
a thousand/' This appears to be an ancient Indian tradi- 
tion, although he has not noticed it. In Philostratus's Life 
of Apollonius of Tyana, there is an account of serpent 
catching in India, for the purpose of extracting valuable gems 
from them. Solinus^ also says gems were cut out of snake's 
heads ; and Friar Jordanus speaks of serpents with gems. 

Cobras, called " Nija " by the Sinhalese and Hindus, have 
veiy thick bodies, and are usually between four and five feet 
long. Some have been found six feet in length. There is only 
one species, but they vary much in colour and markings, which 
are fonned of dark spots on a paler ground. Many have a pair 
of spectacles delineated on the back of the hood. Some are 
nearly black, and albinos have been occasionally foimd. In 
common with most snakes their sense of hearing is ver}' acute, 
but their sight is defective, and they cast their skins fre- 

The cobra, when placed on the groimd, is distinguished by 
a peculiar habit of raising upright one third of their bodies, and 
expanding their hoods, darting out their heads when irritated. 
They are fond of burrowing in ant-hills and holes about houses, 
frequenting the neighbourhood of dwellings to prey on young 
fowls and eggs. If one is killed near a house its companion is 
sure to be seen soon after, haunting the place in search of its 
mate.* They are sometimes found in baths, and swim well. 
Captain Stewart, when superintendent of the pearl fishery, men- 
tions that a sailor found a cobra four feet long on the deck of 
the JVeUiyigtony a small man-of-war employed in guarding the 
fishery at Ai'ipo. It was supposed the snake had swam off from 
the shore and climbed the cable of the vessel. On another 
occasion an iguana was found in the same place.* 

Snake-bites and Antidotes. — The number of deaths from 
snake-bites in Ceylon, according to some returns given by Sir 
E. Tennent, is imder twenty per annum, the majority of the 

» Solinus, xlii. 139. ' Vide Plin., viii. 23, 35. 

' Mem. on the Fishery, p. 93. 


sufferers being women and children.^ In India, where, how- 
ever, the number of venomous species is four times as great, 
they are enormous* In 1869, 11,416 deaths were recorded 
from this cause ; and in 1871 no less than 18,778 people appear 
to have lost their Uves from various dangerous animals in the 

A host of medicaments and antidotes have been devised for 
snake-bites, but the experiments of Dr. Fayrer show that none 
of them are to be relied on to counteract the deadly nature of 
the poison when it has been deeply planted in a woimd, there 
being nothing better than an immediate and vigorous adoption 
of the old ti'eatment by ligatures and cauterization^ if life is to 
be saved. ** The limb bitten should be instantly isolated by a 
ligature of cords above the wound, and tightened to the utmost 
to prevent the poison being absorbed, as it passes into the 
system with the greatest rapidity. The wound should be 
punctured and cauterised with a caustic, such as carbolic acid, 
a red coal, or hot iron. The Hindus use live charcoal and 
gunpowder, the patient's system to be supported by alcoholic or 
etherial stimulants. The person bitten may try to suck the 
poison out of the wound himself, but it would be dangerous for 
another to do so. The ligatures may be removed in half-an- 
hour if no poison symptoms appear." 

An army doctor in Colombo was bitten in the thumb by a 
cobra he was teasing, when he immediately cut away a large 
portion of the flesh about the wound, and did not feel any un- 
pleasant result. Profuse bleeding tends to convey the poison 
out of the woimd, and a hand treated in this way can be placed 
with advantage in hot water. It is very probable that in the 
instances where antidotes have appeared to save life it is not to 
be traced to them, as the action of the poison is sometimes — 
tliough rarely — mysteriously uncertain. A person or animal 
may be bitten by a deadly snake and yet not die ; the poison 

* **From 1849 to 1865 there were sixteen deaths from elephants, fifteen from 
buffaloes, six from crocodiles, two from wild boars, one from bears, and sixty-eight 
from snakes." 

' Speech of Mr. Duff in the Hoase of Commons.— Dr. Fayrer, p. 30. 

• Griffiths, Animal Kingdom, 1831. Oumillia .says, **the Indians of Orinoco 
burnt gunpowder on snake wounds." — Nat. Hist, Orinoco. 


may be expended on the clothes or hair through which the fangs 
pass. There is no better protection from a fatal bite than thick 
cloth or flannel, which soaks up the poison. 

Among the remedies named are Ophiorhiza mongoos, Nux 
vomica, the seeds of which the Malabai*s are said to take in 
small quantities as an antidote to cobra-bites ; iodine, eau de 
luce, and arsenic,which forms the chief ingredient of the Tanjore 
pills, much praised by the Hindus ; also Anstolochia indica, 
one of the bitter-worts. Snakes are said in South America to 
die in convulsions if the juice of A. anguiceda be placed in their 
mouths; and according to Dr. Hancock the "guaco" of the 
Caraccas, a celebrated remedy in the Western world, is made 
from Aristolochia longa, which is also employed by Egyptian 
jugglers to stupefy snakes. Liquor ammonise injected into the 
veins of the patient, as suggested by Dr. Halford, of Melbourne, 
in Australia, is stated to have been very successful in that 
colony and India. The " Bengal Medical Gazette " says out 
of 939 cases of snake-bites in which ammonia was administered, 
702 are reported to have recovered. The average length of 
time between the bite and the administration of ammonia was 
three and a-half liours in the recoveries, and four and a-half in 
fatal cases. ^ It is not explained whether the ammonia was in- 
jected in all these instances into the veins, or taken internally 
as a stimulant. 

Dr. Fayrer found that injections of ammonia were worse tlian 
useless. He also experimented with strychnine, and found that 
in some instances it accelerated the death of the bitten animal ; 
also that this powerful poison, even in minute quantities, is as 
fatal to a pois(mous snake as it is to other animals. Carbolic 
acid is also very fatal to them. A small cobra, inoculated with 
one drop, died in five minutes. A Bungarus fasciatus died in 
ten minutes from inhaling a few drops poured on its cage. 
This substance, which is a kind of creosote, would be useful in 
houses to keep them off. 

The remedy most prized by the natives is the snake-stone, 
which is supposed to be a piece of bone or horn, chaiTed in a 
pailirular manner ; tliey are very black, about the size of a 

* (Quoted in **Naturo," Nov. 1871, January, 1&72. 


broad-bean, flat and round. When applied to the wound the 
stone adheres closely to the skin for a few minutes and then 
drops off. In some instances it is successful. 

Dr. Fayrer thinks it probable that animal charcoal, when 
instantly applied, may absorb the poison, but he found them as 
powerless in a real bite as any of the so-called antidotes ; and 
Dr. Davy also found them of little use. 

The " piedra ponsona " of Mexico is described as being made 
of a piece of stag's horn, enveloped in grass, enclosed in a sheet 
of copper, and calcined in a fire.^ Sir E. Tennent brought 
home some snake-stones, and submitted them to Professor Fara- 
day for examination. He says they are a piece of charred bone, 
yielding when burnt a white ash composed of phosphate of 
lime. Traces of blood were detected in one, probably that of 
a person to whom it had been applied. 

It is not known when this specific for snake-bites was 
devised ; if an invention of the Hindus it is likely to be one of 
antiquity. Tavemier speaks of serpent-stones, but did not 
know where they came from. One kind was found in cobra's 
heads. Query, was he not alluding to the legend already men- 
tioned ? Baldseus, the Dutch minister in Ceylon, 1660, says 
the '* adder's-stone surpasses all remedies for snake-bites, but 
it is often adulterated. The right sort raises no bubbles when 
thrown into water, and sticks close to the skin." Thunberg 
mentions their use at the Cape in 1776, being brought there 
from Malabar. They were black with gi-ey speckles, and threw 
out bubbles when put into watery and turned milk blue, which 
purified them. He sold some which he brought from Ceylon 
for one ecu. The Hottentots when bitten by a snake also 
rubbed a toad on the wound .^ Dr. Davy says he was told hy 
Sir Alexander Johnson that snake-stones were made by the 
monks of Manilla. If so, they very likely learned the art from 
the Mexicans, which would give them a Western instead of an 
Eastern origin. Dr. Ainslie, in his ** Materia Medica of India," 
states that they are made of bezoar. 

Dr. Fayrer's elaborate experiments corroborate those of 

* Hanly, Trav. in Mexico, 1830 ; Pavy, Cey., p. 100. 
2 Thunberg, Trav., p. 439 ; Chur. Coll. Voy., iii. 800. 



Bussell made in India many j^ears since, and show how 
venomous is the poison of some snakes. It may be diluted in 
water, ammonia or alcohol, or dried on slips of glass and kept 
for months without destroying its fatal properties. It has been 
brought to England and found to be quite as effective on ani- 
mals as when it flowed from the reptile's fangs in India. The 
poison is obtained from snakes by making them bite through a 
thin leaf stretched across a mussel-shell, when the poison — ^a 
yellow oily -looking liquid — runs down the grooved tooth into 
the shell. Half a drachm can be collected from a cobra. It 
has been tried on fish, frogs, snails, birds, reptiles, and 
animals, all }delding to its venom. Cold-blooded animals are 
less affected by it than warm. Birds succumb soonest, and cats 
are not so susceptible as other animals. The most rapid deaths 
fi'om a cobra occurred with fowls, one dying in thirty-four 
seconds, the usual time being much longer. With human beings 
in a few instances death has taken place in fifteen and twenty 
minutes, but the ordinary period varies from three to forty- 
eight hours. A gunner of the Royal Artillery died in Burmah 
from the bite of a Daboia in forty-eight hours. Snake poison 
was supposed to be innocuous when there is no wound, but it 
is fatal when applied to the mucous membrance of the eye of an 
animal, therefore great caution is requisite when operating 
with it. 

Venomous snakes have no effect on each other as a general 
rule, but there are exceptional cases when a large poisonous 
snake will kill a smaller one less venomous. Venomous snakes, 
however, are usually very effective on non-poisonous species. 
A tree-snake died from a cobra-bite in two minutes, and a rat- 
snake in twenty-one minutes, while another survived. 

The Daboia Russelli, or " Tic-polonga " of the Sinhalese, is 
a viperine snake, much dreaded both in Ceylon and the penin- 
sula. There is only on^ species, and they are found from four to 
five feet long. The body is very thick, and the head rather 
small, but the fangs are larger than those of a cobra. In Cey- 
lon they are a dark, dull grey, beautifully marked, with a series 
of black circular or oval rings, edged with a pale colour. The 
abdomen is white, with black spots. It is very sluggish, diflS- 

VOL. II. o 


cult to rouse into activity or induce to bite, and hisses very 
much when irritated. The " tic-polonga " is rather rare in 
Ceylon, but appears to be more common in the Peninsula, 
where it is known as the " cobra moml," a name given, Jerdon 
says, by the Portuguese, from the markings on its back resem- 
bling a neck- lace. Other versions of this title have been given, 
but are less probable. Dr. Fayrer found the snake-men much 
more afraid of a Tic than the cobra, and they would not take 
them by the neck as they did the other. Their poison appears 
to be less in quantity than a cobra's, and the effect different, 
acting more on the nervous system, producing coUapse sooner, 
but death is usually longer in taking place. The Tic has the 
power of continually inflicting mortal wounds, and of rapidly 
secreting fresh poison, the cobra being exhausted sooner, and 
taking a much longer time to renew its power. 

Dr. Davy, when experimenting on Ceylon snakes, found the 
cobra less venomous than Dr. Fayrer found them in India, 
which may have proceeded from his having adopted a different 
mode of making them bite, but there was not much difference 
in the Daboia. A rat died instantly from its bite. The same 
snake killed a fowl soon after in less than a minute, and 
another the next day in thirty seconds, and remained 145 days 
without food. 

The " Mala carawalla " of the Sinhalese, T. hypnale, is a 
small viperine snake, from twelve to eighteen inches long, much 
dreaded in India and Ceylon by the natives, but does not 
appear in reality to be very dangerous. The " carawalla " is 
common in the island, and easily recognised by its peculiar 
shape, being thin about the neck and body, with an angular 
head. The back is a brown-grey colour, with dark velvety 
markings pointed towards the head ; under part a silvery white. 
This snake is very active, and hisses loudly when irritated. 
Dr. Fayrer did not experiment with them, but Dr. Davy found 
that a dog bitten by one recovered in forty-eight hours after 
being much affected by the poison. A fowl bitten the next day 
by the same snake died in four days, and a frog, a fortnight 
after, in five hours. 

Sir E. Tennent has placed the Da^oia, and " carawalla/' in 


his list of snakes peculiar to Ceylon (vol. i. 204), and the erroi 
is repeated in " The Natural History." He also gives it as the 
opinion of the natives that the Daboiu ascends trees, which is 
very improbable. 

The green chtrwrHr {Trimeresuriis trigonocephalus), is another 
viperine snake, closely allied to the hypnale, whose bite is not 
considered very dangerous, although the Indian varieties are 
more venomous, as the T. carinatus, which causes great suf- 
fering for several hours to a human being ; and T. gramicus 
can kill a fowl in eight minutes. The Trimeresurus is a bright 
green colour, with a black band along the back. The end of 
the tail is black, and there is a dark line on the side of the 
head, which is large and triangular. The body is fine about the 
neck and attains a length of thirty inches. They prey on tree- 
frogs and mice, being partly nocturnal and arboreal in their 
habits, and have a contracted pupil. Dr. Qunther says the 
green carawalla of Ceylon is a form peculiar to the island.^ 
However, this may be, it bears a great resemblance to the 
Indian variety T, gramineus, the " bodroo pam " of Russell, 
as described by Dr. Cantor in his list of Malayan reptiles, J. 
A. S., Bengal, 1847. The dark markings and line along the 
back is caused by the under skin being black, which shows 
through the outer one in some places. Dr. Dav}', who gives a 
similar description, considered them the same. 

This family are all fierce in their natures, being apt to bite, 
and belong to the Crotalia genus, of which the famous rattle- 
snake of America is a member, reputed to be more poisonous 
than a cobra, and are considered by some to be oviparous. 

It is very doubtful if the Bungams fasciatics, an Indian colu- 
brine snake, entered in Sir E. Tennent's list, be found in Ceylon, 
but only a variety said to be pecuUar to the island, B. Ceyloni- 
ctis, Gunth., forty inches long, annulated with eighteen or 
twenty broad black bands, witli narrow white intervals spotted 
black, which, if not identical, greatly resembles another Indian 
variety B. candidus, known as the " Krait," nearly as fatal as 
the cobra.^ The Fasciatvs is easily recognised, from being 

* Reptiles of Brit Ind. 

3 Ketaart has B. candidus in his list Dr. Gonther says the B. faxicUus is not 
a Ceylon snake. 

o 2 


annulated with alternate bright yellow and blue-black bands,, 
having a metallic |^lusti*e. Its bite is less fatal than the 
" Krait." 

Dn Davy, who examined many Ceylon snakes, found only 
four venomous, and but two fatal to man. He appears to have 
been unacquainted with the Bungarus, and its amount of venom 
remains to be ascertained. 

The Hindus have been long aware, although it was not 
generally known, that some snakes eat each other. Mr. Blyth 
says the B^fasciatus, called " Baja-samp " by the Hindus, lives 
entirely on snakes, especially cobras ; and Dr. Gunther states 
that he found a Uropeltis inside a B. Ceyloniciis sent home 
from the island. The Ophiophagtts elaps, a large hooded snake 
of India, is also a great devourer of other snakes.^ 

The largest of the Ceylon snakes is a species of python, or 
rock-snake, called the Ceylon boa, measuring from twelve to 
eighteen feet in length, of a bright yellow and black colour. 
They are very thick in the body, and have large jaws, which 
dilate wide enough to swallow a smaU animal. On each side 
of the body near the tail are two little spurs connected wiih 
strong muscles, which help them to move along. Although 
immensely strong and courageous they ai-e quite harmless, and 
are frequently seen about Colombo and the cinnamon gardens, 
preying on small animals. They are fond of basking in the 
Sim, on rocks near the sea-shore, and can climb well. It is 
doubtful whether the Ceylon rock-snake is the Pythoii reticulaUuf 
or P. molurus of India, but most probably the latter. Theobald, 
in his catalogue of Burmah reptiles, Jom*n. Linnean Soc, 
1870, says the P. reticulatus does not extend further west than 
Burmah. It has a black line along the head and neck. Very 
fabulous stories have been circulated about the boa, or ana- 
conda. It rarely attains twenty feet in length, and never attacks 
man or the larger animals. 

Bat Snakes. — Pytas muscosus are common about houses, per- 
forming the part of cats, preying on rats and mice. They are 
quite harmless, frequenting the roofs and ceilings at night, 

> J. A. S. Beng., 1860, 99 ; Ann. N. H., 1850 ; Dr. Fayrer, Thanat 


chasing rats, when fierce struggles take place between them, 
and as the ceilings are often only mats spread on joists, the 
combatants sometimes fall through on to the floor in a manner 
rather startling to the nerves of a new arrival unaccustomed to 
these midnight performances, as few people like the idea of 
having any kind of snake in such close proximity. Oil-lamps 
are always kept burning in bed-rooms at night, in anticipation 
of these little contingencies. Rat snakes are large and power- 
ful reptiles, of an olive-brown colour, and attain a length of seven 
feet in India, but those of Ceylon are of more moderate dimen- 
sions, and Mr. Blyth says are a different species (J. A. S. 
Beng., 1854). 

UropcltidcB, or Shield Snakes. — Under this general name are 
included several genera of curious burrowing reptiles, some- 
limes found four feet under ground in sand-hills and other 
places, they are usually of small size, only a few inches in 
length, not often exceeding a foot, and of a dark brown 
colour above, having rostral shields or horny coverings to 
their noses and heads, similar to burrowing lizards and blind 
snakes ; their eyes and mouth are veiy small, being imable to 
open them to any extent. 

Their chief peculiarity consists in having truncated bodies, 
looking as if their tails had been cut off — some in a sloping 
direction and others straight. There are are also a few with 
a tail ending in a blunt point. Those with a blunt tail, or cut 
off in a very sloping direction, are classed as Rhinophis, The 
Silyhara have an oval tennination to their bodies, and the 
Uropcltis circular. Many of these reptiles have been found in 
the hill districts of the island, one or two being peculiar to it ; 
the others are also found in Southern India. Dr. Gunther^ 
says, none of the Silybura have been found in Ceylon but 
only in Southern India ; however, he describes one from the 
island (S. Macrolepis) in the Annals Nat. History (1862, p. 54), 
Dr. Gray has S. Ceylonica in his work on Lizards. Ed. 1845. 

The first to describe Uropeltis as natives of Ceylon, under 
the name of U. Ceylonica, was M. Cocteau, in the " Zoological 

1 ReptUcs of Brit. IncL, p. 191, ed. 1864 ; Gray, Ann. N. H., 1858, 878. 



Magazine/' 18SS; they are also mentioned in CaptainlLaplace's 
first voyage round the Vorld in the French frigate Favourite, 
1882. Sir £. Tennent adduces these reptiles ^' as a further 
illustration of the affinity of the fauna of Ceylon to that of 
the Archipelago ;" but they are now said to be only found in 
Ceylon and Southern India, and it is very probable that the 
one described by Cuvier came from Ceylon, and not from the 
Archipelago as he supposed.^ 

Blind Snakes. — There are two varieties of the genus Typh- 
lops having only rudimentary eyes, more or less covered with 
skin, a homy nose and smaU mouth, their bodies and tails are 
short and round, of a brown colour, and covered with im- 
bricate scales. One (T. merm) is peculiar to Ceylon. Blind 
snakes are also found in Southern India and Malay. 

Cylindropis are half-burrowing snakes, with rudiments of hind 
legs hidden in a small groove, and ai*e about thirty inches 
long, of a brown colour with white bands or spots or net- 
work of dark lines, only one species^ (C maculatu) has been 
found in the island. 

The family of smaU ground snakes, called Calamaria, some 
of which are found in Northern India,^ and very numerous in 
the Malay provinces, have not yet been noticed in Ceylon, 
where their place is taken by a similar genera, called Aspl' 
dura, all peculiar to the island and very common. They are 
of small size with stout bodies, small eyes, and an ohve colour 
with dark longitudinal stripes or spots. They are found under 

Hydrophis. — Sea snakes are not so numerous in Ceylon as in 
India, being chiefly found about Manaar and the north, where 
large shoals of them are seen floating on the sea in calm 
weather. They have generally very long bodies and flat oar- 
shaped tails for propelling themselves through the water; 
their heads are small and pointed, and the thickest pai*t of 
their bodies is near the tail. There is little doubt tliey are all 
very venomous. Dr. Fa3Ter found that a II. cyanocinctus 
killed a fowl in fourteen minutes. This is a very large snake, 

> Gray, Pro. Z. S., 1858, 262 ; Tennent, N. H. Cey., 308, 
« Dr. Cantor, J. A. S. Beng., 1847 ; P. Z. S., 1839. 


six feet long, of an olive colour on the back with yellow sides 
and abdomen. A sailor of H. M. S. Algerine died in four 
hours at Madras, and the master of a merchant vessel in 
seventy-one hours at Moulraein, from the bites of sea snakes. 
Sir E. Tennent says, "sea snakes have fangs and are there- 
fore poisonous, but happily they cannot open their mouths 
widely." However it is clear they can open them wide enough 
to inflict a deadly wound. The scales of sea snakes are quite 
dijBferent from others, being hexagonal. Pclamys hicolor is 
a remarkable species, only twelve inches long, half black 
and half orange-colour, and very poisonous, killing fowls 

In the " Journal of the Linnean Society" for 1868 there is 
an account and drawing of an extraordinaiy double-headed sea 
snake {H. subkevia),^ caught near Madras, twelve inches long. 
According to the natives they are not uncommon. 

HoinalopsiiUe. — Freshwater snakes are very common in the 
lakes and ditches of the fort of Colombo and similar places, 
swimming with their heads above water, breathing through 
their nostrils, which are on the tip of the nose, like sea snakes 
and crocodiles, they have forked tongues, are a black colour 
above and viviparous. Atretium sclmtosus is an intermediate 
species between true water snakes and Tropidonotus, a genus 
of snake frequenting the edges of rivers, tanks, and marshy 
places, pre}4ng on frogs and aquatic animals ; they have stout 
cylindrical bodies, flat heads and wide mouths, and can swim 
well, but their nostrils are not on the upper part of their nose 
as in true freshwater snakes. They are a brownish-grey on 
the back, spotted with black, varied with red and yellow in 
some varieties.^ 

Tree Snakes. — There are several families in the island of 
tree or whip snakes, as they are variously called, some being 
nocturnal. The}'^ all live in trees, where they prey on lizards, 
geckos, tree frogs, and small birds, and have exceedingly 
slender forms, resembling the lash of a whip — those of a 
brown colour might be easily mistaken for one ; none of them 

* ff. cyanocindus, Daud. ' Cantor, J. A. S. B., 1847, 936. 


exceed forty inches in length, being much longer in India. 
Their eyes are large and fascinating and have long heads, 
generally ending in a very pointed nose or beak. Wonderfully 
active in their movements they disappear in an instant, 
winding over the branches with extraordinary rapidity, gene- 
rally making their escape the moment they perceive any per- 
son, but sometimes they will remain a short time and fix 
their gaze on you, which is intense, and very probably have 
the power of fascinating small birds, who die from fear before 
they are in their grasp ; they are sometimes found coiled up in 
the nests of the birds they have despoiled. Nothing can exceed 
the beauty of the colouring of the diurnal varieties presenting 
the varied hues of purple, bronze, brown, green, and yellow ; 
some are all green tinged with bronze, as the Passerita myc- 
terizanSy and can hardly be distinguished among the foliage 
where they dwell. One variety (P. purpurascens) a purple and 
brown colour, shot, is supposed to be peculiar to Ceylon. 

The DeJidrophida are chiefly distinguished by their teeth, 
having three pairs resembling fangs. The Dipsas also have large 
teeth and can bite severely, but none of them ai'e perforated. 

The Dipsas, or Dipsadomorpha, are a nocturnal species, 
having large heads and eyes with vertical pupils, and are gene- 
rally of dull colours. There are only two varieties of this 
genus in the isle. D. Ceyhnicus is an olive-grey colour, 
Ininutely spotted with black, and, unlike most tree snakes, 
has a broad nose. 

Batrachia. — Ceylon is very prolific in frogs, presenting many 
varieties, in extraordinary numbers, some of great size and 
brilliant colours, green, yellow, orange, and red. The ma- 
jority are peculiar to the island, and cameleon-like can change 
colour — doubtless a provision of natiu:e to protect them from 
their numerous enemies, being much preyed on by birds and 
snakes. In many parts of the island it is impossible to sleep 
from the loud croaking of frogs that continues during the 
whole night, proceeding apparently from tens of thousands of 
these creatures, every variety of croak it is possible to con- 
ceive joins to swell into the most infernal discord imaginable. 
The canal or ditch that ran through the fort of Colombo was 


famous for these nightly frog concerts ; during the day and 
dry season they are not much heard, for they either become 
torpid, hid away in holes, or move off somewhere else. 

The true rana, or hatrachia, when young, have no resem- 
blance to frogs, having long bodies and tails with large heads, 
and live in the water, breathing as fish do through gills or 
integuments, but when about three months old they imdergo 
a remarkable transformation, lungs being developed and the 
gills disappearing when they become amphibious. 

The Rana cutipora, found about Trincomalee, attains a 
great size, being from five to eight inches long. The Newera 
Ellia frog of Kelaart is a very small bright green reptile, with 
wliite spots and a pale medial line, which changes at times to 
a pui7)le-brown, also found in the Nilgherries. 

Bufo. — Only three species of toads have been discovered 
in Ceylon. The Indian toad (Bufo melanostktus), an orange 
colour with black spots and head, changing to red or brown 
when alarmed, is common in the maritime provinces. B. 
Kclaartii, a very small species, peculiar to the island, is found 
in the south. Toads have a milky-looking fluid about their 
mouths, which they can squirt out to some distance, it has a 
very offensive odour, and was long supposed, though erro- 
neously, to be poisonous. 

Tree Frogs. — As theii* name implies live chiefly in trees, and 
are furnished with a disk to their toes like geckos, some are 
^ailly web-footed. Tree frogs are of various colours, brown, 
green, and buff; some are spotted and others streaked with 
black ; but they generally assume a colour to harmonise with 
the objects they remain on. The family named Ixalus, of 
-which there are many varieties, are all remarkable for their 
bright colours and small size. One (/. leucorhiniis) is only 
three-quarters of an inch long. 

Burrowing Batrachia. — A strange reptile {Ccecilia glutinosa), 
•resembling a huge worm, fifteen inches long, with a smooth 
viscous skin wrinkled into several hundred annular folds, which 
ibr some time puzzled naturalists how to class it, is now said 
to be a Batrachia,^ the young undergoing a partial metamor- 

^ Gunth., Bep. of Brit Ind. 


phosisy but both old and young live in the ground like worms. 
They haye a flattened head, a cleft mouth with teeth, and 
rudimentary eyes, hidden imder the skin. Several varieties 
have been found in Ceylon, Southern India, the Kassia Hills, 
and Java. 

Ghelonia. — Aristotle describes three groups of chelonia or 
reptiles with homy coverings, sea, land, and freshwater species. 
They are divided by modem naturalists into four or five families. 
Some are furnished with limbs resembling fins suited for swim- 
ming> as the Chelonia or turtles, who live chiefly in the sea ; 
others, as the land tortoises {Testudo), have feet and claws 
suited for walking on dry surfaces ; while the marsh and pond 
tortoises, or " Terrapins," have feet and claws, vdth a web be- 
tween the toes, which enables them to s^im, crawl, or climb. 
Some of the land tortoises are vegetarians, living on grass ; 
the marsh and pond tortoises are partly carnivorous, eating 
small reptiles ; they all deposit their eggs in sand or holes, 
which they makejwith their feet. 

Aristotle^ noticed the extraordinary vitality of the turtle, 
which can be cut up piecemeal without killing it, and can live 
for some time even after the heart is removed ; the accuracy 
of his statements is put to the proof in Ceylon, where they 
are sold in the markets by portions, which are cut off the 
living creature until none is left in the shell, vitality remaining 
to the last. 

A variety of the Indian green turtle (Chelonia midas) is 
found in great numbers all round the coast, and in some places 
attains a great size. They are much eaten by the natives, not- 
withstanding that they are often poisonous, and many deaths 
have occurred from their use ; they also devour quantities of 
their eggs, which are round, soft, and semi-transparent — a 
turtle will lay from one to two hundred. 

Several ancient T\Titers^ allude to the enormous size of the 
turtles in Ceylon and India. Pliny (ix. 11) states they were 
large enough to roof a house ; and Strabo (xvi. 733) says, 
when turned upside down they made boats; according to 

- " De Vita et Morte," ch. ii., Tcnnent. ' Miian, xvi. 17 ; Megasthenes. 


Diodorus Siculus, these immense creatures furnished the 
Chelonophagi, or shell-fish-eaters, with food, houses, and boats. 
As it is not possible the modem turtle could have degenerated 
to its comparative moderate dimensions, these stories pro- 
bably originated in the discovery of some of the gigantic fossil 
tortoises that have been found in several parts of India, 
which measure twenty feet in the curve of the carapace. Some 
very large live species have been recently brought from the 

The hawk's bill turtle {Caretta imbricata) is also eaten by 
the natives, although more unwholesome than the other, but 
is chiefly valued for the sake of its beautiful scales, thiii;een 
in number, which form the tortoise-shell of commerce. Many 
handsome hair-combs are made from them at GaUe, with 
which the Lowland Sinhalese decorate theii* hair, not being 
considered in full-dress without one stuck in the knob at the 
back of their heads. 

The poor turtles are made to suffer for man's vanity in the 
most barbarous manner, the shell if taken from them when 
dead being considered a bad colour, they suspend them alive 
over a wood-fire imtil the scales drop off, when they are 
liberated. At particular times of the year they come up the 
mouths of rivers about Matura and Hambantotta, and crawl 
over the banks for the purpose of depositing their eggs in the 
sands, when they are caught with such facility that they have 
become scarce, a good one being woilh £4. It is a habit 
of this creature to always return to the place where it was 
hatched : even those deprived of their shells are said, not- 
withstanding the cruel treatment the}' experience, to return 
again with new shells on them, some having been marked 
to verify this strange circumstance — it is however very doubtful 
if the shells could grow again. 

In the Celebes the tortoises are first killed and then dipped 
in boiling water to remove thefr shells, which preserves their 
fine colour quite as well as the other barbarous method.^ 
Tortoise shells ai*e one of the eai'liest exports from the island 

» Jour, of the Archipelago, 1849, iii. 227. 



of which there is any record, being mentioned by Strabo 
(ii. 1, 14). Pliny says, Cornelius Pollio, a man of i)rofligate 
habits^ was the first to carve tortoise-shell. The demand for 
them in the island is now so great that the export has ceased, 
and they are imported from Penang and the Maldives. 

A very prettily marked land tortoise (Tesfw^o elcfians) is 
common in low grassy places, where they hide. Their convex 
shells are black with yellow rays. The head and feet are also 
yellow. Emys trijuga and Emyda Ceylonicus are two species 
of terrapins, very common in tanks and marshes, the latter 
is a large size being thirteen inches long, of an olive-green 
colour, they are both put by the natives into wells as sca- 
vengers to clear them of insects, and hybernate when brought 
to Europe, although they do not do so in tlie island. The 
Emys trijuga is more strictly a teiTapin than the marsh 
variety, and cannot live long without water, being almost 
entirely a pond tortoise. 


List of Ceylon Reptiles. 
t New species. 


Crocodilus palustris, Less. 

byporcatus, Ciiv. 
Testudo elegans, Schcp, 
Emys trijuga, Schw, 
*Emyda Ceylonicus. Gray, P. Z. S., 

Caietta imbricata, Linn, 
Chelonia virgata, Schw., C. midas, 

Hydrosaurus salvator, JVagl. 
Monitor dracsena, Linn. 
^Riopa punctata, Ghray, Eumeccs punc- 

tatus of Ounth. , he doubts if in 

Ceylon, p. 93, dotted. 
Mabouya elegans, Oray, £. Hard- 

wickii of Ounth., p. 92. 
Tiliqua rufescens, Oray. Euprepis ru- 

fescens Cantor, GunUi, p. 79. 
Eumeces taprobanes, Kela., Lygosoma 

fallax. Pet., of Tenpent. 

*Nessia Thwaitesii, Guntfi., A.N. H., 
•Burtoni, Gray. 
*monodactyla, Gray. 
Acontias Layardii, Kela, 

Hemidactylus frenatus, Schley. 

triedrus, Less., frequents ant-hills, 
olive brown, rare. 

maculatus, Jhiin,, H. piresii, 
Kela., small spines along back. 

coetaiei, Dum., B. sublsevis, Gray, 
by the J. A. S., Beng., 1852, 
trees and houses. 

Leschenaultii, Duiiu, long-nosed 
gecko, omitted as a Ceylon spe- 
cies by Gunther. Blyth says 
some were sent from the island 
by Layard, J. A. S., Beng., 
XXL 353. Very common in 
Southern India, Jerd., J. A. S., 



Beng., 1853, p. 468, resembles 
H. frenatus. 
Peripia Peronii, Duw, 
*Gyximodactylus kaiidianus, Kela. 
■fiwenatus, Kela., J. A. S. Ikng., 

ftriedrus, Gunth., p. 113. 
kandianus, Kela., j). 52. 
fJmoDarchus, Dum., a large Archi- 
l)elago siMjcies added by Gunther. 
Qy. if in the island, Gecko mo- 
narchus, Gray, p. 161. 

tKycteridiuni Schneideri, GurUh., sent 

from Ceylon by Kelaart. 
*tGcckoella punctata, Gunth, 
Sitana pondiceriana, Oiiv. 
var. minor, Gunth, 
"•Lyriocephalus scutatus, Linn, 
Calotes ophiomachos. Gray, C. viridis 
of Kelaart, p. 171. 
versicolor, Daud., nigrilabris, 
Peters, C. rouxii, Dum., of Ten- 
nent mistaken for it, Gunth, 
mystaceus, Durntr, 
•fnemoricola, Jerd., Ganth. p. 141. 
t*liocephalu8, Gunth. 
Salea Jertlonii, Cray, Ann. Nat Hist., 
t*CopliotLs Ceylanica, Peters, 
*Otocr}i)tis bivittata, Wieg, 
♦Ceratophora Stoddartii, Gray, 
•Tennentii, Gunth, 
t*aspera, Gunth, 
Chameleo Z<*ylonicus, Laur, 
Naja tripudians, Merr, 
Daboia Kusselli, Shaw, 

Trigonocephalus hypnale, Wagl, 
Hypnale ne2>a, Gunth, 

*Trimeresurus trigonocephalus, Gunth, ^ 
T. viridis, Gray, of Tennent. 

Bnngama Ceylonicus, Gunth,, B. can- 
didus, Linn., of Kelaart. 

Python molums, Gray, qy. 

Khinophis oxyrhynchus, Schn., Dapat 
naja lankadiva of Kelaart, Mity- 
lia unimaculata. Gray, 

pnnctatus. Mulhr, 

Philippinus, Gunt^i,, Typhlops 
Philippinus, Cuv. 

*Trevelyanus. Dapatnajo, Trev., of 
Kelaart, M. Gerrardii, Gray, 
Ann. Nat. Hist, 1858, p. 878. 
homolepis, Hemp, 
*Blythii, Kela., M. Templetonii and 
M. mclanogaster. Gray, P. Z. S., 
planceps, Peters, Ann. Nat. Hist, 
Uropeltis grandis, Kela,, two van, 
pardalis and saffragamis, Kela,, 
V. Philippinus, Cuv, 
Silybura macrolepis, Peters, Ann. N » 
Hist, 1862. 
Ceylanica, Peters, U. Ceylanica, 
Cuv,, S. Ceylonica, Gray, ed» 
Hydrophis lapemoides. Gray, Aturia 
lapemoides of Tennent 

fElliotti, Gunth., omata. Gray, 
cyanocinctus, Daud. 
fHoldsworthii, Gunth, 
Pelamys bicolor, Daud, H. pelamya^ 
Schegl., has a wide range, being 
found in New Zealand, Mada- 
gascar, and Panama. 
Cerberus cinereus, Daud,, Gray, 
Atretium schistosus, Daud. Tropi- 
dophis schistosus of Tennent 
also found in Malay, J. Ldnn. 
Soc., 1870. 
•Tropidonotus Ceylonicus, Gunth, ^ 
olive brown, 20 yellow ocelli, 
quincunciatus, Schleg,, Umbratua 

of Kelaart, has a wide range, 
var. funebris, black, 
var. carinatus, scarlet spots, 
stolatus, Linn. 

Ceylonensis, Gun., a var. of Chiy- 
*Cylindrophi8 maculata, WagU 
•Aspidura brachyorrhos, Wagl, 
*Copii, GunUi, 

*trachyprocta, Cope, Ann. Nat. 
Hist, 1863. 
Haplocercus Ceylonicus, QwUh,, very 

long and slender. 
Oligodon modestus, Gunth, 



♦Oligodon sublineatus, Dum, 

Templetonii, OutUIl, small ground 

snakes with strong teeth and 

slender form, brown colour with 

pale vertical bands. 
Simotes Russellii, DaucL, olive brown 

black bands edged with white, 
purpurascens, Schleg, , Xenodon 

purpurascens of Kelaart. 
var. albiventer, Oumih. 
Ablabes Humbertii, Ounth., p. 228, 

reddish olive ground snake. 
.Cynophis Helena, Daud,, a large 

ground snake, preys on mice and 

small reptiles, Ann. Nat Hist, 

1848, p. 247. 
Pytas muscosus. Grey, Colomber Blu- 

menbachii, Merr., C. korros of 

Blyth, J. A. S., Beng., 1854, 

291, and Tennent 
Oyclophis calamaria, OurUh., a grass 

snake of a greenish colour, a var. 

in Japan, Ann. Nat Hist., 

Chiysopelea omata, Dum., two var., 

one dark with black cross bars, 

another grey with yellow and 

black bars. 
Dendrophis picta, Sekleg. 
fcaudolincolatus, Gunth,, Ann. Nat 

Hist, 1872, p. 14. 
Passerita mycterizans, Oray. 
var. fusca, brown whip-snake. 

♦purpurascens, Ounth, 

♦Dipsadomorphus Ceylonicus, Ounth, 

fDipsas Bamesii, OuniJi., Ann. Nat 
Hist, 1872, p. 13. 

Lycodon aulicus, Linn,, a light brown 
Indian snake with rostral shield, 
two varieties are found in Cey- 
lon, one gray and one brown, 
both differing from that of the 
peninsula, Gunlh. 

*Cercaspis caiinata, Kithl., 2 feet long, 
dark colour with white rings. 

*Typhlops mcrus, Jan. 
braminus, Cuv, 

Rana hexadactyla, Less., R. cutix>ora, 
Dum., of Tennent. 

Rana cyanophlyctes, Schvi., R. Benga- 
Icnsis, Gray, of Kelaart 
Euhlii, SdiUg., the Ceylon species 
differs from that of the Archi- 
tigrina. Baud., Ceylon bull-frog, 
i^assimilis, BlytJi, J. A. S. Beng., 
xxiii. 732. R. vittigera, Weigm, 
f Newera Ellia, Kela. 
t*Hoplobactrachus Ceylanica, Peters, 
found in hills, Ann. iNat. Hist, 
*Hylorana maculara, Blyth, Lymno- 
dytes maculara of Tennent. 
•temporalis, Gunth,, var. of B. ma- 
labarica, Dunu 
t*Namophrys Ceylanicus, Gunth., 
P.Z.a, 1868. 
Megalophrys montana, Kuhl., head 
broad and depressed, fingers 
free, grey colour, Cantor, Malay. 

Diplopclma omatum, Daud., a very 
small species, reddish grey with 
purple spots. 

JPyxicephalus breviceps, no specimen 
received from the isle, Gunth,, 
p. 412. 

f*Ixalus adspcrsus, new tree frog, Ann. 
Nat. Hist, 1872, p. 86. 
t*oxyrhyTichus, id^m, 
t*pulchellus, idem. 
♦variabilis, Gunth., idem. 
*leucorhinu8, GuntK 
♦schmardanus, Kel. , found in hills, 
very peculiar form. 
f*fimbriatus, Gunth., Ann. Nat. 

Hist 1872. 
t*femorali8 from centre of isle, 
Guwth., P. Z. S., 1868. 
ttemporalis, idem. 
fmacropus, Ann. Nat Hist., 1872. 

f*Polypedates cavirostris, P. Z. S., 
1868, tree frog. 

t*nasutus, Gunth., P. Z. S., 1868. 

maculatus, Cfray, very common 
species, P. cruciger, Blyth, in 
Kelaart - 



♦Polypedates microtympanum, 

♦eques, Gunth,^ a spurred variety. 

Rep. Brit Ind., p. 481. 
freticulatus, Gunth. 

Kaloula pulchra, Qray. 

Bofo melanostictus, Schn, 

*Eandyana, QurUh, , Ann. Nat Hist. , 

*Bafo Eelaartii, OurUK, Adenomas 
badioflavus, Cope, of Tennent 

Epicram glutinosum, Dum,, Csecilia 
glatinosai Linn, 

Several reptiles are entered in Sir E. 
Tennent's list which cannot be identi- 


fied as Ceylon species, for instance, 
**Cher9ydrus granulcUus^ Schn./' a 
Burmah snake ; " T. OeyUmensis, 
Gray, and T.nigromarginaiuf^ Gunth," 
qy. Schleg. are entered as distinct 
species, although only other names 
for H. nepa (Gunth.). 



In tropical climates the smaller reptiles and insects are so 
numerous and annoying, and are so continually obtruding 
themselves on your observation, that the most listless observer 
of animated nature cannot fail to acquire a knowledge of their 
many singular forms and habits, especially as he wiU find he 
has a personal interest in acquiring it, in order to guard against 
them, consequently every strange insect that presents itself to 
the unwilling gaze of the new arrival becomes an object of 
unpleasant interest, probably more naturalists are made in 
tropical climates than any other, the annoyances of insects 
and escapes from snake-bites forming a frequent subject of 
conversation. How many a new arrival is first m^de aware of 
the existence of such things as white ants, and of their peculiar 
habits by discovering some article he had incautiously left on 
the floor of his room covered with clay and destroyed. In 
fact you are continually kept on the qtd vive by some villanous 
little creature. 

The nxmiber of species in the island almost defies classifica- 
tion, amounting, it is supposed, to 10,000 different kinds, of 
which a very smaU portion have yet been named. Ants are as 
numerous as the sands of the shore, and there are immense 
numbers of minute beetles. Flights of butterflies occur in the 
spring in the vicinity of Ambepusse several miles in breadth, 
and contain such countless m3Tiads they are several da3's in 
passing, flying in a south-eastern direction. The Sinhalese 
gay they go to Adam's Peak, but little is known about them. 
These annual flights are chiefly composed of CaUidryas, 


Euplcsa and Papilio marcellina, all of a pale yellow or brownish 
colour. ^ 

From the prodigious number of insects, the jungles and 
gardens of the low country present a scene of life and anima- 
tion only to be found in the tropics, and a continued hum 
resounds on all sides. This teeming activity is most striking 
in the morning, its busy hum being succeeded by the hot still- 
ness of noon. In very warm climates many beetles and other 
insects hide in the day in holes in the earth about trees 
to escape the sun. Towards evening they again come forth, 
and, as it deepens into night, myriads of fire flies show their 
green light in every direction among the foliage. 

There is a remarkable change in these scenes of insect life 
towards the end of the monsoons, when the greater part of 
them disappear. This time of the year seems to act on many 
of them as winter does in cold climates ; they either die during 
the extreme heat, previously depositing their ova in some 
suitable place, which produces a new race under the influence 
of the rains of the monsoons, or they eestivate in various re- 
treats until then, when the previous activity is resumed.^ 

The insect fauna of Ceylon is the least known part of its 
zoolog}'. Any person who undertakes a complete description 
of it will have a great task to perform ; a mere enumeration of 
names, if names can be found for them, would occupy a small 
volume. The difference between the insects of Ceylon and 
Northern India is considerable ; Ceylon being so much nearer 
the equator, many of the forms are quite tropical. Still a lai*ge 
proportion of the beetles and many of the spiders are European. 
BemhidiiiUe are as common as in northern regions, and what is 
remarkable, are most numerous in the warmest pails of the 
island. It has been remarked — speaking of Southern Asian 

* Similar flights of yellow butterflies have been noticed in Brazil and other 
places. Kirby, Entom., p. 296. 

- Vide chapter on Fish. Tlie ancient Egyptians thought this reappt^arance of 
beetles after the inundations of the Nile, an emblem of a future existence of the 
soul. *'0n voit/' says M. Jomard, "apr&s la retraite du Nil et la f^condation 
des terrcs, le limon convert d'une multitude de scarab^es. Un pareil ph^nom^ne a 
dd sembler aux Egyptiens le pluspropre & peindre une nouvelle existence." 
vou IT. p 


insects — that to the north of a line drawn through the Philip- 
pines they are largely mixed with European forms ; even India, 
80 far south as the Nilgherries, has little of a tropical fauna.^ 
Many non-migratory insects are carried great distances by 
winds and floating timber, and become established in new 
homes. An instance is reported of a beetle flying on board 
a vessel 500 miles from the African coast. ^ 

GoLEOPTERA. — Beetles play an important part in the order 
of nature. The family of Longicomes are equally destructive 
of timber trees in northern and tropical climates, boring 
tunnels through their trunks, and the extension of cocoa-nut 
plantations has called into increased activity the destructive 
power of the cocoa-nut beetle {Oryctes rhinoceros)^ causing 
serious loss to the planters. On a plantation of 150 acres of 
three-year-old trees there was not a single tree untouched.^ 

It is remarkable that a sudden increase in the cultivation of 
some plant towards which man has turned his attention, calls 
forth a more than proportionate increase in the destructive 
activity of insects that live on them, which before were only in 
a normal state. About thirty years ago the cocoa-nut beetle 
and coffee bug {Lecanium coffea), although causing some 
damage to planters, did not produce the wholesale destruction 
which has happened since. 

Extraordinary cavities are formed in trees by longicorn 
beetles. The larvae live in the long tunnels which they per- 
forate ; in this stage of their existence they are a large pulpy 
worm, three inches long, and the colour of milk, having a 
jointed appearance, with asperities in the centre of each joint 
to enable them to move along. When the larva has attained 
its full age it makes a cocoon of the gnawed wood, cemented 
with a gummy secretion. In this cocoon it changes into a 
pupa, or chrysalis, which is at first the same colour as the 
larva, and ultimately issues forth the full-grown beetle. 

The cocoa-nut beetle, called " cooroomenya " by the Sin- 
halese, is a pale brown colour, and said to have been brought 

' Pasco on Penang Beetles, J. Linn. Soc., 1866, p. 223. 

J. Entom. 8., 1871, p. 178 ; Linn. Trans., 1861, p. 821 ; 1872, p. 89. 
* Capper, J. Cey. B. A. S., 1846. 


from the Archipelago, where it is equally destructive (vide 
ch. xxxii.). The Malabar coolies, who are nearly as omnivorous 
as the Chinese, eat the unpleasant-looking larvee. However, in 
this they have Scripture on their side, as the eating of beetles 
is permitted in Leviticus. ^ 

The Batocera rubis is another of the tree-borers, of a brown 
colour, about an inch and a half long. 

In 1861 a new pest appeared on the coffee estates of Southern 
India, in the shape of a boring beetle, said to be of the Ceram- 
bycida family, Xylotretus quadrupes. It commits great ravages, 
principally in the dry season; the trees turn yellow, and with 
the least shake break off close to the ground, the trunks being 
completely eaten away by the larva, which is a yellowish white 
with a black head. The beetle is three-quarters of an inch 
long, with a narrow cylindrical body, small head, and large 
eyes. The elytra are black, with three angular green streaks, 
and the abdomen terminates in a short sting-like appendage. 

This beetle is mentioned here, because it is said to have 
been recently noticed in Ceylon, where some new species of 
coffee borers have also made their appearance. One is de- 
scribed as being the caterpillar of the moth Zeuzera, called 
" the red coffee borer of Ceylon." The larva attacks the trees 
in the middle of the stem, and works its way through the pith. 
Another, called the black grub, is supposed to be the larva 
of the dart moth, Agrotes segetem, found in England, where the 
Zeuzera ascvJi preys on the ash tree in a manner similar to 
its namesake on the coffee tree. The eggs are laid on the bark 
just above where a leaf falls off. The grub when hatched eats 
into the stem, passing upwards for some distance, when it 
turns and descends below the point of entry, boring a smooth 
cylindrical tunnel, diverging towards the bark, which it eats 
away, leaving only a thin outer skin, and then becomes trans- , 
formed into a pupa, which easily breaks through when the time 
of exit arrives. 

Eight species of tree-boring larvae from Ceylon and Southern 
India were exhibited by Mr. F. Smith at the annual meeting 

^ « And the beetle after his kind yoa may eat," xL 22. 

P 2 


of the Entomological Society in 1868. The nature of some 
was not exactly determined, one was a Zeuzera ; another, called 
the "great white borer," looked like a Zeuzera. This grub is 
found about the roots of trees. The others were Coleoptera.^ 

Many Ceylon beetles have very highly-coloured elytra. 
Among those distinguished by their brilliant hues, the golden 
beetle, Stemocera orientale, takes the first place from their un- 
rivalled richness and metallic lustre; the green and golden 
hues are so marvellously blended it is difficult to say which 
prevails. When seen in the morning sun, fresh from the night, 
as they clamber over the damp leaves, nothing could be more 
beautiful. The dark half-caste Portuguese beauties of Colombo 
place them in their hair. Some are dark blue, as the Chryso- 
bothrys sutralis, and others vivid green {Chryaochro Brownii).^ 
Nyphasia torrida has rich orange and red elytra,^ Trichentoma 
Templetonii is a large and remarkable beetle of a buff colour 
with black legs, Campsosterum Templetonii has golden green 
elytra, edged with purple ; this is one of the Elaterida, or 
jumping beetles, having a joint in their back which enables 
them when placed on it, to spring into the air and get on their 
feet with a clicking noise. Buprestidxe were incorrectly sup- 
posed by Linnffius to be the " cattle bursters " of the ancients, 
who fancied that cattle swelled and died from the effects of 
swallowing certain beetles, but it has been shown by Latreille 
that the insects alluded to by them are iheNylabris of Fabricius, 
a species of cantharides. 

The family of Necrophagce, or burying beetles, who are so 
actively employed in Europe in interring dead bodies of small 
reptiles, are rare in tropical climates,* where their place is 
taken by ants, who are a host in themselves in this line. 

Dytisddce (water beetles) abound in all the tanks and fresh 
waters. When the water in their haunts is dried up, they 
ffistivate in the mud until the periodical rain renews their 

^ Trans. Entom. Soc. London, 1868, p. 165 ; also the ''Coffee Tree and its 
Enemies," Nietner, Colombo, 1861. 
. 3 Saunders, Trans. Entom, Soc., 1872, p. 241. 

^ Ann. Nat. Uist, ziz. 
D'Orbigny enumerates only twenty-three species from the whole of Asia* 
Diet. li. N.,Tiii. 


activity. The hind legs of water beetles being flattened at the 
end like an oar, they can swim with great ease and are 
amphibious ; a receptacle under the hollow of the elytra contains 
a supply of air which enables them to dive, swim, or crawl 
among the plants under the water until it is exhausted, when 
they return to the shore. They are also provided with wings 
and fly about in wet weather. Most of the tropical species are 
named Cybisters ; they are nearly all the same shape, a round 
oval, and a dark brownish colour, but the elytra of some are 
grooved lengthways. The sub-family of Gyrinda, or whirligigs, 
are very numerous and of large size. 

Lampyrida, — The fire-fly is a luminous nocturnal beetle, of 
a blackish-brown colour, covered with short brown hair, and 
has a soft body. The light, which is of a greenish colour, rests 
in the under extremity of the abdomen, and is only perceptible 
in the dark. During the day it presents the appearance of an 
ash-coloured spot. When flying they alternately kindle and 
obscure the light, perhaps an instinct of self preservation ; for, 
if approached at night, they suddenly disappear from sight and 
reappear some yards off. The cause of this luminous appear- 
ance has given rise to much discussion, without its being 
exactly ascertained what it proceeds from, but it is most pro- 
bably phosphoric. Cuvier found that the light appeared when 
they were placed in lukewarm water ; but that cold water ex- 
tinguished it. These' charming creations of nature collect at 
times on the trees in such numbers, that when the wind 
agitates them they fall in a shower of fire, resembling some 
pyrotechnical display. 

GlotV'Worms are also numerous. It i^ considered very 
doubtful if the larva of the fire-fly is known, or that it is 
luminous. The glow-worm is said to be luminous in all its 
transformations. Lieutenant Hobson, in the '' Transactions 
of the Entomological Society,'* 1866, p. 101, describes what 
seems to be a new species of glow-worm found at Gampola ; 
"it is two inches long, and as thick as a goose quill, formed 
of eleven rings, nine of which have two luminous spots on each, 
making eighteen in all. When touched the insect curls up, 
looking like a ring studded with lamps ; they are very sluggish. 


and borrow in damp earth." A glow-worm (Attraptor innmina- 
tar, Murray), from Rio, South America, desciibed in the 
*' Jomnal of the Tjnna^an Society," 1870, p. 74, resembles the 
one at Gampola, baring a series of bright spots on each side 
of the body, which is formed of eleren segments. The spots 
near the head are red, caused by some colooring matter in the 
aldn throogh which it shines. Similar glow-worms have been 
noticed at Nicaragua. 

Carabidce. — ^Many of this fiamilyin Ceylon resemble those of 
Bnrmah. Tropical Carabida are usually of large size, fierce 
and carnivorous, preying on smaller insects. Some have no 
wings, and are mostly ground beetles. Their elytra are 
chiefly purple, though green, brown and richer hues are found 
on them. A few have an odour of musk, and others of 
creasote, A singular variety has been found in the island 
{Cyclosomus dyticoides), shaped like a water beetle, of a chest- 
nut colour. Its habits are not semi-aquatic as one would 
suppose, as it burrows in dry sandy places. 

Bembidiida. — Contrary to what one would expect, these 
are more common in the lower country than in the cool hill 
region, being very numerous on the banks of the Colombo 
Lakes. Some have light brown elytra, others black or bronze. 
Trigonotomida are common in damp places, and often fly into 
houses in rainy weather. Some pigmy species of Ptinidium 
have been noticed by M. Nietner, the only Asiatic representa- 
tives hitherto found; also a few resembling ants {Anthic7is 

Cassidiada, or tortoise beetles, are named from their eljrtra 
being formed like the shell of a tortoise, the legs being drawn 
underneath ; a flat rim in some varieties of a different colour 
from the centre gives the appearance of a frame, the difference 
in colour proceeding from their habit of depositing their larva 
on the rim. Tortoise beetles are very small, and often of 
bright colours. C. ornate is like a ruby enclosed in a frame of 

Coprida are abundant. These beetles, who live habitually 
in manure, are generally small and black, but some have 

^ Ann. Nat. HiBt., new series, ii. 427 ; also 1857, p. 272. 


trilliant metaUic hues. In order to preserve these colours, 
natiu'e has furnished them with the power of secreting an oil, 
which prevents the noisome matters amongst which they live 
sticking to them. 

The Scarahceus sacer, one of the largest of this family, is 
<;alled the scavenger beetle in Ceylon, from its making balls of 
horse dung, which it buries in the earth, having previously 
deposited its eggs in them, in order that they may be hatched 
by the heat of the manure. There is nothing more amusing 
than to watch this operation, and the earnest activity with 
which it is performed. After the ball has been made, which is 
often larger than itself, it sets to work to roll it to a sandy 
2)lace, or where the earth is soft, directing it backwards by 
means of its odd-looking legs. Arrived at the spot where it 
is to be buried, it gets imder the ball, thro win g out the sand 
all round until it sinks out of sight. They fly with a loud 
buzzing noise, and have a keen sense of smell. The Scara- 
hceus sacer is supposed by some naturalists to be the sacred 
beetle of the ancient Egyptians, which is engraved among the 
hieroglyphics on their granite monuments ; but this is doubted 
by others, as Herodotus speaks of one a golden green, some of 
which were discovered for the first time in 1819 by M. Cail- 
laund, and are considered to be more probably the sacred 
beetle than the black one. 

Lepidoptera. — Although many Ceylon butterflies are ex- 
ceedingly beautiful, they are less gorgeous than those of India, 
South America, and other tropical countries, neither are they 
all of gay colours ; a good many have sombre hues. Neptes- 
jumbah has black wings, with a few white markings, and in 
numbers white predominates, as in Papilio Phryne. Many of 
them have a wide geographical range, being also natives of 
€hina, the Archipelago, Northern India, and a few of South 
America ; they are not very numerous in the higher mountains, 
and generally avoid the sun, preferring shady gardens and 
jungles, and cool retreats near water or rivers. 

The most beautiful of them is the great black and yellow 
(Ornithoptera darsius), peculiar to Ceylon ; the wings resemble 
rich black velvet, the centre of the lower ones having a large 


brilliant, glossy yellow spot; it flies with a languid heavy move- 
ment. The larva resembles the back-bone of an animal with 
sliort ribsy and is a deep brown colour. This is said to be the 
only Omithoptera found out of Malay countries.^ Next in size 
is the Papilio Hector, about four inches across the wings, which 
are also black and velvety, with carmine spots. They are very 
numerous. The caterpillar, which feeds on Aristolochia, is a 
rich brown, with a number of scarlet spikes all over the body* 
Papilio PolydoruSf a variety of P. Hector, has a few rays of* 
carmine or yellow instead of spots on the wings. Papilio 
Polymnestor has the upper wings black, and lower ones blue, 
and flies rapidly ; the larva has not the least resemblance to a 
caterpillar, having large eyes Uke a dragon-fly, and a curious 
hump on the back resembling a buckle, and of a deep green 
colour. A butterfly called the sylph by the Europeans. 
(Hestia Jasonia) has semi-transparent wings, and hatmts cool 
shady places near the margins of rivers and mountain streams. 
Chalcosia thaUo is named the Uttle black and white butterfly.* 
The Lyccenidce are a very attractive family of small butterflies, 
having short bodies, and a peculiar metallic lustre of wing as 
they flit about in the sun ; their colom-s are chiefly pale blue 
or piuple, but some are quite white, as Castalius rosiomon. 

Westwood, in his " Illustrations of Oriental Entomolog}%'* 
has depicted a few of the most chai'ming and rare of Ceylon 
butterflies. The Limacodes graciosa is distinguished by alter- 
nate brown and green bands on the outer wing; Amathusa 
philarchiis by broad silvery fascia on a blue-black wing ; and 
Charaxes psaphon by rich fulvous wings edged with black. 

Moths. — As soon as the sun sets a multitude of hawk-moths ^ 
make their appearance, passing with rapid flight from plant to 
plant during the short twilight, when they disappeai*, and are 
succeeded by the Bombycida, or night-moths. Unlike many of 
the brilliant papilios that revpl in the daytime, most of the 
nocturnal moths in colour resemble the plumage of owls, some 

1 Wallace, J. Linn. S., 1866. 
« Horafield's Cata., R I. Muaeum. 

• So named from their strong flight, the Hesperidse of Linn., distinguished by 
four spurs on their hind legs, and thick bodies. 


being perfectly white, as the Bombyx mori, or'real silk moth ; 
but a few of the Indian Satumia have richer hues than those 
of Ceylon. The most remarkable of the moths is the Acher* 
ontia morta, named from the curious representation of a ** death's 
head " on its shoulders. The colour is a rich brown, and 
marked like a tortoise-shell. This insect utters a plaintive cry 
when seized, which Reaumur supposed to be caused by the 
fiiction of the palpi against the proboscis. Mr. Moseley thinks 
the noise proceeds from air rushing through a hole in the 
head.^ The caterpillars are a large size, and of a green colour, 
with several transverse yellow bands, and a flexible horn on 
the front of their heads. They are fond of the tobacco plant. A 
very large atlas moth {Phal<ena AtUis), eight inches across the 
wings, is common in the gardens about Colombo. They have 
a remarkable silvery talc-like spot on each of the larger wings. 
Several of the Tusseh silk moths of India are found in 
Ceylon — one, the PhaUena rincini, is six or eight inches across 
the wings, and of a buff colour ; the caterpillar feeds on the 
Ricinus, or castor-oil plant, country almond, Tenninalia Ca- 
tappa, and Ficu8 religioaa. Vast quantities of these moths' 
cocoons are obtained by the natives in the forests of Upper 
Assam, from which they manufacture the Tusseh silk.' The 
cocoons being found in trees, explains the lines in Virgil : — 

** Velleiuque ut foliis depectant tenuia Seres." ' 

Herodotus also says silk was a kind of wool that grew on 
trees (iii. 106). The Portuguese and Dutch tried unsuccess- 
fully to establish the culture of silk in Ceylon, both with the 
Tusseh and true silk-moth, and another attempt has been made 
recently. There are upwards of forty silk-producing moths in 
different parts of the world. Night-moths form egg-shaped 
cocoons of a white colour, smooth, and silky, among branches 
of trees and shrubs, some of them being very large. 

Stinging Caterpillars. — One of the most annojing of the 
insect torments of Ceylon are the hairy caterpillars of the tulip 
trees, who let themselves down by threads of gossamer which 

> J. Entom. S., 1872. 

' There is an account of the Assam moths in P. Z. S., 1859. • 

* Georg. lib. ii. ver. 120. 


they spin from the branches, on the neck, ears, or hands of a 
person underneath, shooting the stout hairs Avith which the3" 
are covered into the skin, causing considerable pain and in- 
flammation for some time after. It is not exactly known to what 
species of moth or butterfly the hairy caterpillar of the tulix> 
trees belongs, but they ai'e probably a variety of Adolia, of 
which there are several species in the island. A. luhcntlna is a 
white and reddish-winged butterfly, variegated with black, which 
produces a green caterpillar, spotted with red, and covered with 
strong hairs that sting formidably. The tulip-tree caterpillar 
resembles that of Adolia aconthea, of Boisduval, which is a 
pale green, with a white stripe along the back. There is also 
A, gartida, Ainathusa phidippus, and Discophora celinde, which 
have stinging caterpillars. Can any of them be the rough 
caterpillars mentioned in Jeremiah, ch. li. 27 ? Some of 
Beaumur's Geatnetra also let themselves down from trees by 
threads, but they are not hairy, and have no legs in the centre 
of their bodies, moving like leeches. 

Geoflfroy's Pterophortis are very abundant, minute night- 
moths named from the Greek for a feather, their wings being 
split into a number of feather-like portions ; hence they are 
also called split-winged moths. 

The most singular of all the moths belong to the family 
Eumenida, of Westwood, genus Oiketicus. They form nests 
made of little bits of sticks fastened together lengthways, and 
lined with a silky substance ; some of them are six inches long, 
and hang from branches of trees, looking like diminutive bundles 
of fire-wood. " The Sinhalese beUeve these moths were 
formerly human beings who have been condemned to this state 
as a punishment for stealing wood."^ Some of this family of 
moth named Psyche are found in Europe^ forming similar nests 
in pomegranate trees. Unlike most other insects whose trans- 
formations develope into a more perfect form, the female of 
the Oiketicus undergoes a gradual degradation, the wings and 
legs falling off*, and ultimately becomes a vermifuge animal. 
The male and female live in separate nests. Four species of 

* Tennent, Nat. Hist. 


these insects were sent from Ceylon by Dr. Templeton, and 
described by Mr. Westwood in the P. Z. S., 1854, p. 219. 

Orthoptera. Mantida. — No form of the insect world is 
so strange as the leaf-insect ; so closely do they resemble a leaf 
in shape and colour it is not easy to distinguish them among 
the foliage in which they live. Some are brown like a faded 
leaf, others are bright green of various hues. Naturalists 
divide Mantidse into three classes — the ambulatory, or walking, 
who have very small wings, to which the Mantis-religiosa be- 
longs ; the PhyUium siccifoliuin, having large leafy wings ; and 
the Phasmidce, or spectres, also called stick insects, resembling 
in shape and colour a leafless twig, some being furnished with 
a short wing-like appendage, while others have only legs of a 
most attenuated form. There is also a sub-genus Necroscia 
with wings and bodies resembling dragon-flies, and richly 
coloured. The PhyUium and Phasmidce are vegetarians, but the 
Mantidce are ferocious and carnivorous, preying on the weaker 
members of their own sort, decapitating each other's heads in 
their strong jaws after fierce struggles, using their arms like 
swords. All the varieties are numerous in Ceylon; one, 
Harpax signifer, Walk., is exceedingly small, being only ten 
lines long. 

MantidsB are only found in tropical or very warm climates ; one 
of the smaller species. Mantis religiosa, numerous in the south 
of France, at times holds its fore-arms in an attitude of prayer, 
which has given rise to strange superstitions among the 
peasantr}', who supposed them able to divine events ; hence 
the name of the soothsayer and praying-insects came to be 
applied to them. Sparman mentions that they are worshipped 
by the Hottentots ; and the Mahometans say Mantida, like true 
' believers, repeat their prayers with face and hands turned 
towards Mecca.^ 

Their eggs are deposited on leaves, and look like seeds of 
an angular form with eight sides. Mantida in one stage of 
their existence inhabit a rough white egg-shaped cocoon re- 
sembling pith formed among branches of trees. Some of these 

' Sparman, Travels ; Blumcnbach, Abbeld. Nat. Hist. Gigenstande, p. 88. 


insects attain a gigantic size in South America and Australia, 
being more than a foot long, and very richly coloured. Several 
new Phoimida, sent from Ceylon by M. Nietner, are described 
in the " Linnean Transactions/' 1866, 321, by H. W, Bates. 
Vide list at the end of this chapter. 

Blattida. — The well-known nocturnal insect called the 
cockroach (B. arientaiis) abounds in all the warmest parts of 
the island. In particular places about houses they come forth 
at night in thousands, and a light is indispensable in venturing 
among them. They are not so destructive in Ceylon as in 
England, where they are now naturalized, having been brought 
by ships. 

Oryllida. — The common field-cricket {Acketa campestris)^ 
several varieties of grasshoppers and locusts {Acridhun), are 
found in most parts of the island in great numbers, but it is 
quite free from the swarms which infest some parts of India. 

Neuroptera. — Dragon-flies swarm in the hottest parts of 
the island, usually hovering over rivers and tanks ; unlike 
most other insects, who generally avoid the mid-day sun, 
dragon-flies rejoice in its fiercest rays, their transparent wings 
sparkling in the sun with the lustre of gems. They are car- 
nivorous, eating other insects, and also prey on their own 
species. Their enormous eyes see all around them ; nothing 
escapes their observation, darting on passing insects with the 
velocity of lightning. The larvae are also carnivorous, and in 
this state of their existence dwell either in or on the water, and 
are seen near the edges of rivers propelling themselves along 
by sucking in water at one end and forcing it out at the other. 

The most beautifrd of Ceylon dragon-flies is the Euph^ea 
splendens, having a brilliant emerald hue. The colours of 
these insects fade rapidly after death, and many have no colour 
at any time, but only pale lace-like wings. 

A variety of the dragon-fly (Mymeleon) produces a larva called 
the ant-lion, from its preying on ants, entrapping them in a 
circular pitfall in the sand, remaining partly concealed at the 
bottom, and eventually forms a cocoon of grains of sand 
cemented together. 

Termites. — These insects are popularly but erroneously 


called white ants, on account of the great resemblance between 
them and true ants (Formicida). White ants are classed by 
Westwood as the first of the order Newroptera on account of 
their having four wings. It is also a mistake to suppose that 
they are all white, as there are many varieties of them in 
difierent countries, of varied colours, some being reddish and 
others quite black.^ They were first noticed by Jobson in 
Purchases " Collection of Voyages," and afterwards scientifi- 
cally described by Smeathman in the " Philosophical Transac- 
tions,'' 1781.^ 

T3^ical white ants are mischievous little creatures, the 
colour of milk, and about half an inch long. Coming out of 
the ground they gradually cover everything they attack with 
cemented clay, and are very fond of wood, especially if it be 
old, but have no objection to clothes or other articles — ^furni- 
ture, mats, and in fact everything on the floors of houses re- 
quire to be constantly examined to guard against them, for they 
work with such secrecy and celerity, articles are firequently 
destroyed before one has the least idea they are even touched. 
Timbers in the roofs of houses suffer very much from their 
depredations, and the ceilings are sometimes made of mats 
stretched on beams to facilitate examining them. The wooden 
posts of verandahs and doors require to be fixed into stone bases 
raised several inches above the ground to keep them off; 
ebony and palmyra are the only woods that defy them in Ceylon. 

Colonel Yule, in his "Jordanus," gives a remarkable in- 
stance of their engineering talent : " Some harness was hung 
up on an iron peg in a wall so as to be at least six inches 
from it ; but the ants were not to be foiled, they projected a 
tubular bridge of clay from a crack in the wall until they 
reached the harness." 

It is not quite clear what they live on, although they eat 
great portion of the things they cover with clay. This is not 
always the case, as they erect ant-hills round trees which still 

* Tide Hageu, List of Neuroptera, p. 20 ; T,fatalis, Fab., found in Ceylon, 
are a reddish brown, T. taprobanes, white. 

' Friar Jordanus had previously to either written about them, but his work was 
little known. 


flourish in their centre, and the inhabitants of these edifices 
must have some other way of obtaining food. Those who 
build round trees appear to be a distinct species, similar to 
Smeathman's Termea arborum, a brown colour, with black heads* 

In the cinnamon gardens, Colombo, there are many of these 
ant-hills five or six feet high, full of cells and compartments 
communicating by means of galleries. Their habits in some 
respects resemble those of bees, having queens Uving in 
separate compartments, who swell to a monstrous . size when 
fiill of eggs. Smeathman, whose observations were confined to 
African white ants, says a i queen becomes two thousand times 
her natural size, and lays 2,920,000 eggs in a year. Schom- 
burgk says the Savannahs of Guinea were covered with their 
fabrics ten feet high. 

White ants swarm like bees at certain periods in the even- 
ings, coming forth in such myriads as to darken the sky, being 
furnished with wings for the occasion, which drop oflF some 
hours after ; they do not fly very far, but spread themselves 
over the vicinity of the parent ant-hill. (Vide ch. xxv. p. 147.) 
It is a subject of conjecture and surprise how they are able 
to secrete the quantity of gummy substance required to cement 
the clay of their inmiense habitations, or where they get all 
the moisture firom. In the cinnamon gardens it is clear they 
must bring up the clay from some depth below, as the surface 
soil for several inches is composed of white quartz sand, which 
they do not use. The clay of their hills is triturated to an 
extraordinary degree of fineness. Knox mentions that it was 
used by native artificers for making moulds for small castings, 
and is still turned to the same purpose. Termites are not found 
in the higher mountains. 

A writer in a recent number of the periodical called 
" Nature *' (iii. 852), gives a description of the ravages of 
white ants in Jamestown, St. Helena, where they have effected 
a lodgment, having been previously imknown in the island. 
" Doors, roofs, floors, all eaten up ; no wood but teak could defy 
them, and not always even that." The remnant of a door- 
post in the governor's house is now in the British Museum. 
It is stated that the town of La Bochelle in France was at one 


time in danger of a similar fate^ some of these insects having 
been brought there in an American ship.^ 

There is a statement in Pliny (xi. 31), taken from Herodo- 
tus, which has often puzzled commentators. He says, " There 
are in India a certain kind of ants who burrow in the earth 
and throw up abundance of fine gold from mines under ground. 
They are the colour of cats, and the size of Egyptian wolves." 
Query, does not this story refer to the great mounds of yellow 
clay reared by white ants, and have not they been confounded 
with the manis which burrows into them ? Mr. Wilson, in the 
Jour. R. A. S., says there is a Sanskrit poem which describes 
some hill tribes on Mount Meru who used to sell grains of 
gold called "pippilaka," or ant gold, which they said was 
thrown up by ants. K Pliny knew this and the habits of the 
manis, it seems to explain his story. Some suppose it to refer 
to a practice of the natives between Thibet and India, who use 
foxes' skins for washing gold dust in. (** J. A. S. Beng." 1834.) 

Hymexoptera. — Ants are the most numerous and ubiqui- 
tous of Ceylon insects, no place being free from their intrusion. 
A bit of bone or a shell hid away or even wrapped up in a 
drawer with any particle of flesh attached to it will be found, 
after a short time, quite poUshed. Skeletons of small reptiles 
are frequently found in holes about houses as clean as ivory, 
the work of the common black ants {Fortnica nigra) who are 
very useful in their way, performing the part of scavengers, 
and being endowed with a sleepless activity, are at work day 
and night carrying off dead or maimed beetles, cockroaches, and 
lizards. As soon as any of their numerous scouts perceive 
these lying about the house, they at once proceed to the nest, 
and in a few seconds a swarm comes forth and carries off the 
spoil. If you place a dead gecko on the floor in order to see 
this operation performed, you can trace the scouts to the nests, 
and remark almost immediately afterwards the issuing out of a 

In consequence of their love for sweets,^ places where these 

^ Annales des Sciences Nat., 1853. 

^ Dr. Davy, in an article on tropical plants, says that sagar-eatisg ants prefer 
brown to white sugar. 


things are kept require to be isolated from the floors to prevent 
their intrusion, by placing the legs standing in saucers filled 
with water. Linschoten mentions this practice at Goa three 
centuries since, sa}ing, " some have their bedsteads isolated " 
(p. 84). 

Numerous as they are in the houses it is nothing to their 
numbers outside ; they swarm in the sands, and cover every 
tree and plant from the roots to the extremity of the highest 
leaf. If you sit down for a few moments on the ground, or a seat 
in a garden, you will find them immediately crawling over you ; 
if you pluck a flower or a fruit you are sm*e to find them on it. 

Jerdan^ describes many species of ants of Southern India 
which are found in Ceylon ; among them is a curious genus, 
Harpegnathos saltator, which jumps over the ground, making 
surprising leaps when alarmed ; they prey on live insects. Every 
I>08sible variety of size and shape present themselves, but are 
only of two colours, black or red;^ the largest and least 
numerous is a very large black one, a species of Ponera, called 
** kalu-koombya " by the Sinhalese, rarely seen in houses or 
frequented places, but are found in the jungles living in holes 
in the earth, and bite formidably. The next in size are the 
large red ants (Formica smaragdina of Fabricius). They are 
fierce and active ; it is no slight matter to get among a swarm 
of these irascible insects, who bite ferociously — the half-naked 
natives are in great dread of their painful sting. People are 
often obliged to beat a hasty retreat from the neighbourhood 
of their nests when passing through the jungles; if you only 
touch a branch of a tree where they are located, they at once 
attack you. Jerdan says, " they are employed in India to destroy 
wasps in their nests, but very often the remedy is worse than 
the disease, as they sting everybody in their vicinity." {Vide 
p. 229.) 

It is said the Ceylon ants have no formic acid,^ which is a 
stinging liquid ants pour into a wound when they bite, but 

1 Annals N. Hist., 1854. 

^ M. Nietner '*has sent seventy specimens of Ceylon ants, all of different 
apecies, to Berlin." — Tennent, Nat Hist. 
• Tennent. 


there seems to be no reason why they should not have it as 
well as all other ants. This liquid can now be produced by 
chemists, and has a sour smell and pungent taste. Red ants form 
nests with leaves of trees, which they glue together and then 
line with a thin substance resembling paper. In making them, 
several ants stretching from one leaf to another draw then! 
together, holding them in their place while others fasten them. 

Among the smaller ants is the Formica nidificana^ which 
makes an oval nest, resembling paper, among branches of 
trees. As a general rule black ants made their habitations in 
the earth, and the red in trees. Some of the latter cover the 
hollows about the roots and trunks of trees in which they live 
with cemented clay. Avery minute black species {Atta mifiuta), 
who prey on dead insects, make their nests in the backs of 
books, old papers, empty trunks, comers of drawers, and all 
sorts of places ; chey are often found on chatties and vessels 
containing water. 

Black ants usually swarm at sunset, being provided with 
temporary wings. They are not aU carnivorous ; some species 
are vegetarians, eating seeds, while others are very partial to 
sweet substances. 

Wasps and Bees. — There are several species of mason bees 
and wasps who make nests of an oval shape, composed of clay 
formed into cells similar to those of a beehive, suspended from 
the branches of trees, and are often of very large size, some 
having been found six feet in length, described by Mr. White- 
house in the " Trans. Entom. Soc," 1839. 

A large species of hornet {Sphex rafipennis) of Fabricius, 
with reddish-brown wings, having violet reflections, is regarded 
by the natives with great dread, their bare skins rendering 
them peculiarly vulnerable to its ferocious sting, and is more 
than a match for the large Spider (Mygalejasciata), which it 
occasionally kills. Roberts says, *' he has known natives who 
died from the eflFect of their sting, and thinks they are the 
formidable hornet alluded to in Scriptm*e ; ^ they prey on 
cockroaches caught in holes and crevices of walls. 

' Roberts, Oriental lUus., p. 109 ; "I will send hornets before thee." — Exod. 
xxiii. 28 ; Josh. xxiv. 12. 




A smmll species of mason wmsp of the genus Pelofpeu$^ with 
Terj lustrous wings, has a passion for filling keyholes of doors, 
ereriees in posts, or any tabular article not constantly in nse, 
with a series of clay cells,^ in which they pkce their eggs, 
prerionsly depositing them in the bodies of another insect, 
and then closing the apertnre with clay. This wasp belongs 
to the nnmerons fiunfly of what are called solitaiy bees or 
wasps, who lire separate, and do not congregate in hires* 
Some of them have the habit of depositing their eggs in the 
bodies of caterpillars or other soft insects, who are prerionsly 
disabled by stinging them, the unlucky insects thus selected 
writhing terribly under the operation. 

Carpenter bees (Xylocopa) another of the solitaiy family, 
resemble honey bees, but are more hairy and thicker about 
the body and legs; a rery common variety in Ceylon has 
Tiolet coloured wings and a black body, as their name implies. 
They bore holes in wood for depositing their eggs in, after- 
wards closing the aperture with the dust of the wood cemented 
with a secretion. It is a curious circumstance that the head 
of the young pupae is always found to be next this part, which 
they can easily penetrate when the time arrives for their exit ; 
the boring of the holes is performed while they are poised on 
their wings, and accompanied by a hunmiing noise. They 
are very fond of making holes in the posts of doors and 
verandahs of houses. 

Honey bees are abundant. A great quantity of wild honey 
is found in the hollows of trees in the jungles, and hawked 
round Colombo for sale by the natives. 

HoMOPTERA. — Cicadida, or tree crickets, abound in the 
warmer parts of the island ; their loud and harsh notes pre- 
dominate in the gardens and jungles over the varied noises of 
all other insects ; but they are seldom seen and not easily 
caught, their tune suddenly ceasing the moment you approach 
the vicinity from whence it proceeds. The very great power 
of voice in this insect in proportion to its size has been often 
commented on, and is supposed by some naturalists to rest iu 
the iUflH^. Anscreon, who calls it the ** melodious insect," 

aid en tube " bj the French is fonnd in Italy. 


has made it the subject of Ode xxxiv. Plato was compared to 
one on account of his eloquence; and it is mentioned in 
Homers " Hiad." The elder D'lsraeli, in his " Essay on 
Bomance/'^ calls it the insect Handel. The field cricket 
and grasshopper have been often mistaken for the Cicada, 
which has a very thick body with a broad head and large pro- 
minent eyes ; they have also very large transparent wings, are 
very fond of the sun, and lay their eggs in crevices of the bark 
of trees. 

Hemiptera. — There are a great number and variety of 
insects in the tropics included in this general term, presenting 
all sorts of queer shapes, among them are the Hydrometrid^, 
or water scorpions, frequenting the surface of rivers, tanks, 
and aquatic plants ; some have wings, and fly into rooms at 
night, others resemble water beetles ; and there is a gigantic 
aquatic bug {Belostoma Indicum), about three inches long, of a 
brown colour, also found in India, which bites ferociously 
when laid hold of. 

Aphaniptera. — Fleas swarm in the sands, but are not very 
niunerous in houses, unless they are neglected. If a house is 
imoccupied for any time it is necessary to wash the brick 
floors before a person can enter, if he does not wish to be 
covered by thousands of them. 

DiPTERA. — In consequence of the heat and abundance of 
moisture, prodigious swarms of flies of various species infest 
most parts of the island ; the oil in the tumblers^ of night- 
lights in bedrooms is usually found full of them in the morn- 
ing, and the light is often put out by the niunbers that surround 
it. They are mpst numerous along the banks of rivers and 
tanks, rising from them in dense clouds during the evenings, 
particularly after the monsoons. The houses in the vicinity 
of the lakes at Colombo are infested from this circumstance. 

^ Vide Moore's "Anacreon," where many quotations will be found on this 
subject The cicada is evidently the insect alluded to, and not the grasshopper. 
The latter was a symbol of initiation in the ancient Egyptian mysteries. 

^ Some years since the light in common use for all purposes in the island was 
a short cotton wick fixed in the centre of two bits of cocoa-nut leaf fibre placed 
crossways, with little bits of cork at their ends. This floated on cocoa-nut oil in 
an ordinary tumbler half-filled with water. These ingenious and primitiye lights 
were made by the servants. 

Q 2 


Mosquitoes {Culcx laniaer) are perhaps the greatest torment 
in Ceylon; new arrivals are especially victimised, and easily 
recognised hythe extra numher hovering about them, perhaps 
from their blood being sweeter than the older habitues, who 
are less annoyed the longer they remain in thfi island. Natives 
are rarely bitten by mosquitoes ; but, as they oil their skins, 
it may keep them off. The clothes worn by the Europeans 
are no protection from their bites, as they can insert their 
proboscis through the stoutest cotton or drill trousers, and 
are so active you cannot catch them unless when gorged with 

Mosquito curtains to beds are indispensable ; thus enclosed 
in a cage of muslin you may defy them, but if only one is left 
inside you cannot rest until he is got out, as he will alight on 
your face in the most irritating manner every time you are 
dropping to sleep. 

Herodotus says, " the fishermen in the fens and swamps of 
Egypt covered themselves when sleeping with their fishing- 
nets, knowing that the mosquitoes would not venture through 
the meshes of a net." But as Sir E. Tennent remarks, in 
-quoting this passage, "the mosquitoes of Ceylon ai'e unin- 
fluenced by the same considerations which restrained those of 
the Nile." Fortune says, "mosquitoes in China, where they 
appear to be very numerous, are kept off by what the Chinese 
•call Mosquito tobacco, or pastilles made of the resinous wood 
of juniper trees" (p. 180). 

A very pretty fly, of a bright green colour, is named by the 
Europeans the flying bug, from its being impregnated with a 
very strong odour similar to that of the domestic insect ; they 
have some resemblance to cantharides, and are very common 
in gardens about Colombo. Any naturalist enamoured of its 
appearance, who catches one, will find out that this insect 
deserves the name given it, and will never try to entrap 
another. Dr. Hooker mentions these flying bugs in his 
'* Himalayan Journal " (p. 74). 

Nycteribia. — A very extraordinary parasite, found on bats 
in Europe, has also been noticed on them in Ceylon. This 
insect, which seems to be allied to the Hippoboscida, or spider- 


fly, that torments horses, but cannot fly like them, was first 
described by Montague in the " Trans, of the Linn. Soc." ia 
the early part of this centur}-.^ 

Coccida. — An insect that causes great damage to coflFee trees 
in Ceylon is called the coffee bug, Lecanium coffece, but it 
belongs to the family of scale insects, one of whom, the Coccus 
lacca, produces the shell lac or gum lac of Japan, a rich trans- 
parent brown gum which exudes from it in the form of 
scales, being in reality the larvce of the insect ; another furnishes 
the cochineal dye. 

The coffee bug first appeal's iu the form of minute brown 
wart-like bodies on the bark of the 3'oung shoots, each wart is 
a female containing a number of eggs; when arrived at 
maturity the young come forth, looking like exceedingly small 
woodlice, speedily spreading themselves over the whole 
plant, which then presents the appearance of haAing a pale 
scaly erujition on the bark. "It is only after the pest has 
been on an estate for two or three years, that it shows itself to 
an alarming extent. .With the second year the trees assume a 
blighted appearance, and the benies turn black, numbers falling 
off; the third year the whole plant becomes black as if covered 
with soot, the leaves looking like velvet, and on manj'^ trees 
there is not a single berry." ^ No effectual remedy appears ta 
have been discovered for this pest, which is to some extent 
mysterious in its visitations, appearing and disappearing on the 
plantations at intervals of several years ; both black and red 
ants prey on the larvae, and the larger species of red ants 
already described were encouraged on some estates, in the hope 
that they would exteiminate it, but the remedy was found as 
bad as the disease, for the ants drove away the Mtilabar coolies, 
who could not stand theii* ferocious sting. The coffee bug 
undergoes several transformations, the mature insect has some- 
thing of the appearance of a fly, having two oval wings and 
six legs, the body is long, with a tail formed of a single seta. 
The female has no wings, and when full of eggs, of a flat roimd 

' Vol. ix. p. 166 ; voL xi. p. 11. 

' Dr. Gardner, Mem. on the Coffee Bag. The coffee plants in Guadaloupa 
have been injured by an insect named Elachista coffula.^^lSSihy, p. 109. 


form. The young are quite microscopic. Something similar 
is at times found on vine stems in England. 

Articulata. — AcaricUs. Ceylon is infested with ticks of 
varied size and colour, Oribata and Ixodes, the larger species 
similar to those of England, are of course exceedingly 
numerous in such a climate, crows, shrikes and other birds 
pick them off the backs of buffaloes and cattle, but the dogs 
are not so lucky; the wretched pariah curs of the native 
villages are perfect martyrs to these insects, who sagaciously 
fasten themselves on those parts of the animal where he cannot 
reach them. Even man comes in for his share of the pest, a 
small species of mite like grains of dark sand swarm in the 
lower jungles, where a number of the tormenting vermin will 
at times get on to every part of your body. Mites are common 
to all tropical climates, and are not confined to the jungles, 
being found in gardens and houses about Colombo ; they ai*e 
exceedingly small and burrow under the skin, holding on so 
tenaciously, the head often remains in the wound when you 
pull them off, and with some persons causes considerable in- 
flammation. They should be touched with a drop of cocoa-nut 
oil, when they speedily fall off without any further annoyance. 
Cocoa-nut oil is very obnoxious to most insects, and the best 
remedy for their bites or stings. 

A species of Trombidium} looking like a ball of crimson 
velvet, about half an inch in diameter, swarm in thousands on 
the sands in some places soon after heavy rain, chiefly in the 
north ; they are full of a red fluid, and quite harmless, living on 
vegetation. A small variety called the red mite is foimd in 
gardens in England. 

Scorpions, although numerous, are not very troublesome or 
dangerous in Ceylon ; they are less common at Colombo than 
Kandy and other places, where there is a very large black 
species, Buthus afer, and a smaller yellow one, Scorpio Ceylari' 
ieus. There are also others of a dark gray colour. Dr. T>ayy, 
who made some experiments on fowls, found they were not much 
affected by their sting, and came to the conclusion that it was 
little more active than that of a wasp. '' And the same with 

Trombid6«, Snites h Buffon. 


centipeds and spidete," but centipeds will cause a good deal of 
inflammation at times. In some parts of Italy where scorpions 
are very venomous, it is said ^ the best remedy for their sting 
is to crush the insect and place it on the wound, and an oil 
was manufactm-ed from them for the same purpose. The 
habits of scorpions are similar to those of centipeds, being 
partly nocturnal, and eating cockroaches ; the female carries 
her young, who are of a veiy pale colour, on her back. 

Chelifer. — Three species have been noticed in the island by 
Dr. TemjJeton, one being similar to a European variety, and 
probably imported in books by the Dutch or Portuguese. The 
chelifer is an active and minute insect resembling a scorpion, 
with a crab-like claw, and called the book scorpion from its 
being always found about old books and musty papers, preying 
on tlie microscopic forms which constitute the mould on paper 
kept in damp or neglected places. 

Another insect found in the same places is named the LepisTna 
and fish insect, from its silveiy scaly appearance, and easily re- 
<50gnised by the peculiar tail formed by three long setse placed 
at an acute angle. One of them foimd in Ceylon is also said 
to have been brought from Europe." 

ArachnicUe. — Two or three very large species of spiders are 
found in the island ; one of them which is very common, 
belongs to the family of Impavida, and is described by 
Walckenaer,' who calls it Olios Taprobanius. It is about fifteen 
lines long, of a dark gray colour, having little hair on the body 
and very long legs, the corselet is reddish, and it spins a very 
strong web. Walckenaer says it resembles the Olios of the Mo- 
luccas, which is remarkable for itslong legs, but is paler in colour. 

These spiders are occasionally seen running across a room 
carrying a cocoon full of young ones under their legs, which 
they drop when hotly pursued, the little ones running about 
in all directions in wild dismay.* It was the custom among the 
Europeans in the island to kill aU of them they could find, 

* Mignon, Travels. 

^ Tennent, i 155 ; Van Hoeven, Zoology. 
3 Walckenaer, Suites k Buffon, i. 590. 
• '* Buffon says, *' In very hot climates some of the egg socks of spiders contain 


from the erroneous idea that their bite was poisonous, being 
mistaken for the venomous Tarantula found only in Italy. 
There are some species of Tarantulfe in Ceylon, but they are 
small and harmless. The Olios are frequently found in cellai*s 
among wine or beer bottles. 

The largest spider in the island is the Mygale fasciata} a 
verj' lai'ge insect, spreading its legs over a diameter of from 
six to eight inches ; the body and legs are stoutly made and 
covered with long dark brown hair which gives it a very heavy 
aspect. This spider is slow in its movements, and is said to 
have retractUe claws like feline animals.^ Knox, who named it 
"Democulo," says it was as large as a man's hand. 

The Mygale is more common in tlie northern parts of 
Ceylon, but is not very numerous anywhere, and its habits are 
solitary and retiring, being seldom seen in the day time, living 
on small insects and cocki*oaches. 

Some have supposed the Mygale to live in trees, and spin a 
web strong enough to catch small birds,^ but in no instance 
has it ever been known in Ceylon to prey on them, nor does it 
appear to live in trees, or spin a web anywhere, for it catches 
its prey, such as cockroaches, by openly attacking and seizing 
them on the ground. Albert Seba says, " it does not make a 
web, although it lets itself down from trees where they live, by 
a strong thread." * 

There has been some controversy about the bird-eating 
propensities of the Mygale aviculana of the West Indies, very 
closely resembling that of Ceylon, and stated by Madame 
Merian to prey on sun birds in Sui'inam, but the truth of her 
statement has been questioned ; however it is said there are 
bird-eating spiders in BrazU, Sydney and India. In the 

more than 800 young ; Lieut. Hutton counted 810 in one, J. A. S. Beng., 1832, 
p. 474. 

* Walckenaer, L 209. 

' Lucas in Ann. Nat. Hist., new series, L 159. 

' Capt. Percival says, *' There is a spider which makes a web strong enough to 
catch a bird," Ceylon, p. 813. 

^ Seba calls it the Aramxa maxima Ceilonica, '* Cette espice ne ill point do 
toile, il sc trouve snr les grandes arbres." Mr. Layard, C. C. S., gives an 
account of a fight between a mygale and a cockroach, Ann. Nat. Hist., 1853, 
p. 892. 


Annals of Nat. Hist, for 1851, there is an account b}^ 
Captain Sherwell, of an immense web of a j-ellow colonr some 
twenty feet wide, found near Kerrakpur on the Ganges, formed 
by a large black and red spider six inches across the legs, sup- 
posed to be an Epeira. The partly eaten remains of a 
Nectarinia Asiatica were hanging to the web.^ Other accounts 
have been jiublished of voracious and carnivorous spiders- 
called GaleodeSf observed by Captain Hutton,- at Neemuch,. 
who appear to live on the gi'oimd and not to si)in a web. 
None of these tigers of the insect world have been noticed in 
Ceylon. Du Chaillu also speaks of spiders' webs in Africa so 
strong that birds were entrapped in tliem.^ 

There are many varieties of the true spider or Arachnida in 
Ceylon, such as the Epeira diadema, which resemble those of 
Eiu'ope in appearance, haimts, and habits, suspending tlieir 
graceful webs in houses, gardens, and jungles, from branches 
and stems of trees across paths and other places in hope of 
intercepting flies and insects, just as we see them in England, 
Arith the shrivelled bodies, limbs, and wings of their prey 
hanging from them ; they are, however, much larger than those 
of Europe, and spin amazingly strong webs. Dr. Hooker 
mentions seeing " spiders' webs in Benares resembling curtains 
of coarse muslin, several yards across ; the threads were not 
an'anged in radii, but like those of weavers " (p. 66). The 
spiders we have been describing all bear a resemblance to those 
of Europe, but there are in the island several species o£ 
Gasteracanthay of a pale colour and small size, with strange 
spikes and projections on their bodies. Some of these eccentric 
forms, along with curious new spiders, in the Hope Museum, 
Oxford, recently sent from Ceylon by Mr. Thwaites and M. 
Nietner, are described by the Eev. O. P. Cambridge in the 
Journal of the Linnean Society for 1870. One, named Pho- 
roncida Thwaitesii, two and a half lines long, and of a reddish 
colour, belongs to the family of Thcrididion, established some 

' Also in J. A. S. Beng., xix. 475. 

^ J. A. S. Beng., xL 860. 

• •* Le pays est plein d'araignees d'line ^tonnante variety do formes. Quelques- 
nnes de la grosae espdce, ont des toiles si fortes que des oiseaiix mdme viennent s'y 
prendre.** — Notu Annales de Voyage, Paris, 1868, p. 97. 


jearg since by Mr. Westwood on the receipt of a variety from 
Malabar. Another is "a veritable four-eyed spider " (Miagram^ 
mopes), the first ever found, although the existence some- 
where of such a spider has been long suspected by naturalists, 
as it fills up a gap in these insects ; all spiders hitherto known 
having either two, six, or eight eyes. They are very small, 
only four lines long, of a yellow colom*, and also remarkable 
for the great length of their first pair of legs, which are quite 
disproportionate to the others.^ The most remtokable of all 
are the eyeless spiders, which will form a new family called 
TartarideSf closely allied to Tlielyphonns, already found in the 
island. These blind spiders, of which two varieties have been 
named Nyctalops crassicaudata and N. temcicaudata, are minute 
arachnids foimd among decayed leaves on the groimd ; they are 
of a yellow brown colour, and have a sort of tail. 

The immensely long-legged spiders (Phal/ingiiim), called 
harvest men in England, are found in the higher mountains.^ 

Spiders are said to have been a favomite food of Anna Maria 
von Schurman, a German poetess connected with the so-called 
Reformers of the sixteenth century ; she compared them to 
nuts. They were also eaten by Laland the astronomer. 
Walckenaer mentions several instances of this singular fancy 
in France and elsewhere, and their supposed medicinal pro- 
perties. They were used by Galen for diseases of the eyes, 
and formed part of the recipes of Sir Walter Ealeigh, a secret 
acquired in South America.^ 

Myriapoda. — ^As in most hot climates there are many 
varieties of insects, large and small, resembling centipeds, such 
as LiHiobitis and Geophilida, often mistaken for true centipeds 
or Scolopendra, which are less numerous than the other species. 
Many of the Myriapoda are of a pale red colour, and some are 
olive brown. They are all covered with a number of homy 
scales or plates, forming a soi-t of armour, which in the larger 
species is exceedingly hard and strong, resisting a good blow. 

* A variety has been found quite recently in Northern Australia. — Ann. Nat. 
Hist, 1874, p. 169. 

* Tennent. 

> Walckenaer, i. 181 


Some of the Scolopendra are of large size, being twelve inches 
long, and quite nocturnal in their habits, having an apparent 
objection to the light, dwelling in dark damp holes of walls and 
cellars, or amongst old timber, and are often found in bundles 
of fire-wood. They have an unpleasant habit of secreting them- 
selves in the sleeves and pockets of clothes, which necessitates 
an examination of articles of dress that have been placed 
aside for any time before putting them on. Centipeds are in- 
clined to be pugnacious, and when first seen raise the fore part 
of their bodies in a menacing attitude, but speedily take to 
flight and run with great rapidity. They are possessed of an 
extraordinary activity, which, together with their defensive 
armour, enables them often to escape with impunity from the 
ill-directed blows aimed at them. 

There is something very unpleasant in the aspect of these 
creatures, every bit of whose jointed bodies and numerous legs 
are in active motion at the same time, and the bare idea of 
their crawling over one is horrible. Their bite is also very 
painful, producing a great deal of swelling and redness for 
some hours. They are supposed to secrete a poison, which is 
soon exhausted by use. A variety named Cemiatia is remark- 
able for the great length of its slender legs and antennae. 

Millepeds, though allied to centipeds, do not possess either 
their unpleasant properties or activity, being quite harmless, 
and are generally found coUed up in a state of torpor, only 
moving about in very hot weather, and are vegetai'ians. These 
insects resemble a coil-spring of fine wire about eight inches 
long, of a dark colour. One species of Jidus has a red stripe 
along the back ; then* legs, which are yellow, are not so 
numerous as the name millepede implies, being only about 
one hundred in number. They progress very slowl}', with an 
undulating movement, and are very niunerous in the gardens 
about Colombo. 

Glomeris. — Woodlice are abimdant ; among them is a very 
pretty species of Zephronia, of a brilliant yellow coloui', with 
dark bands, green antennae and legs. Woodlice are called 
pill millipeds, from their habit of rolling themselves into a 
round baU when touched. 


. AxNELiDiE. — Leeches infest both land and water. A variety 
of the medical leech {Hirudo medicinalis),^ and a cattle leech 
swarm in all the unfrequented lakes and waters. When leeches 
were wanted medicinally, instead of sending to an apothecary 
for them, it was the custom to send a native with a bottle to 
catch some by wading into the water of the nearest swamp, and 
take them off his legs as they fastened on him. They are very 
large, and have an immense capacity for blood, in which they 
are out-done by the cattle leech (Hamopsis pahidum). " The 
cause of much annoyance, and even the death of cattle and other 
animals who go to diink in places frequented by them. These 
pests, hidden in the vegetation which fringes the water, fasten 
themselves on the animals, and making theii* way up the 
nostrils, ai*e not to be eradicated until they drop off gorged 
with blood, when the internal hcemorrhage sometimes suffo- 
cates the animal.'' ^ 

Land leeches {Hcemadipsa Ceylanica) to sportsmen and j)er- 
sons who frequent the damp jungles of the interior, ai*e the 
greatest pests in Ceylon. Leech-gaiters, which keep the others 
off, are of little avail against them, as they climb up your body 
and get inside your clothes ; besides, they can spring on you 
from among the leaves.' They are of a reddish brown colour, 
with a nari'ow yellow stripe on each side, and are not much 
thicker than a large needle when empty, but when filled with 
blood they swell to the size of a goosequill one or two inches 
long. The young ones can hardly be seen, as they are no 
larger than stout hairs ; they are not found in tanks or rivers, 
their usual haimts being damp vegetation, yet appear to have 
the power of living for some time without moisture, as a shower 
of rain has the effect of bringing them forth by thousands in 
places where not one could be observed before. They have 
driven travellers out of the Best-house at Kaigalle to take 
shelter on the road, and have been known to draw blood from 
people in their palanquin caniage. 

' Hirudo sanguisorba, Linn. 
* Tennent, Nat. Hist. 

' The land leeches of Ceylon vere described in the Edinburgh Philo. Trans., 


With persons whose blood is in a bad state their bites when 
numerous will produce dangerous sores. Dr. Davy (p. 103) 
mentions that " many of the sepoys and coolies employed in 
the Kandyan rebellion of 1818 died from their eflFects, leeches 
causing more deaths than snakes^ and he had seen fifty on a 
man's leg at a time." The best way to make them drop off 
is to squeeze lime-juice on them, a remedy mentioned by 
Ibn Batuta, who seems to have been the first writer who 
noticed them.^ Coolies and natives employed in jungles where 
they are niunerous and much exposed to their attack from 
their bare legs, smear them with cocoa-nut oil. When look- 
ing out for prey they congregate by thousands in damp vege- 
tation with one end of their bodies fixed on the leaves and the 
other end raised perpendicularly in the air, waving backwards 
and forwards. 

Sir E. Tennent, who had some of them examined through a 
microscope, says the body is formed of a hundred rings, 
and they have five pairs of eyes, which are placed on the 
dorsal surface of the first five rings, two on each. The 
teeth, which are sharp and pointed, are very numerous and 
arranged in rows. The mouth is similar to the water-leach ; 
neither eyes nor teeth are perceptible to the naked eye. Land- 
leeches were found by Thunberg in Batavia, by Marsden in 
Sumatra, and by Dr. Hooker in the Himalaya. They have 
been also noticed in Japan and Chili.^ 

A gigantic species of earth worm {Megascolex ccendeus, Parag.) 
upwards of twenty inches long, and of proportionate thickness, 
which throws up great hillocks of mould, is very common in 
the north-eastern provinces. They were first described and 
named by Dr. Templeton in the P.Z.S., 1844. Su* E. Tennent 
in a letter to the same society, 1862, implies that they were 
not unknown to French naturalists, and refers to D'Or- 
bigny, but his account was taken from Dr. Templeton ; he 
says, " Megascolex, genre de la famille des lombries nouvelle- 
ment ^tabli par M. Templeton pour une grande espece qu'il a 
d^couverte dans Tile de Ceylon," viii. Ed. 1846. 

Filaria. — An exceedingly fine kind of worm called the guinea 

* Vide ch. xii. " Hooker's Jotum., p, 98. 



worm {FUaria medinensia) is not uncommon in Ceylon among 
the natives, chiefly in the north, generally forming under the 
skin about the ankles. Some suppose it is introduced into the 
system through the water, while others think they are in the 
sand, crawling up the feet and legs and working their way 
imder the skin. It is at first very short and barely perceptible 
to the eye, but grows to a great length, circling round and 
round into the flesh. It has recently been ascertained to be 
oviparous, although this was doubted, and appears to be a 
species of tape-worm, or very closely allied to them, growing 
in the same manner. 

They are foimd in India, and Linschoten mentions a similar 
worm at Ormus, saying, "There is a sickness or common 
plague of worms which grow in the legs ; it is thought they 
proceed from the water that they drink. These worms are 
like unto lute-strings, and two or three fathoms long, which 
they must pluck out and wind about a straw or a pin every 
day some part thereof as long as they feel them creeping. It 
is also called the oxen pain, because oxen are many times 
grieved with them;*'^ The guinea worm was known to Agath- 
archides. There is a long account of it in the Trans. Linn. 
Soc, 1864, by Dr. Charlton. 

* Travels, p. 16. 

List of Insects. 

The difficulties in the way of making a list of all the Ceylon insects already 
known are very great, and if accomplished it would be too voluminous to insert 
here. The following chiefly new or remarkable species are taken from various 
** periodicals *' and works on natural history. 

Mygale fasciata, Walck. 

radialis, Camb. , new species. 
Phrynus lunatus, Pall. 
TheljTphonus caudatus, Linn, 
Olios taprobanius, Walck, 
Amycle albomaculata, Camb, 

Cheriacanthum incertum, Camb., N. S. 
Tenganaria civilis, Sum. 

torva, N. S. 
Pholcus Ceylonicus, N. S. 

distinctus, K S. 
Argyrodes fissifrons, N. S. 
Theridion tepidariorum, Kock. 

lutipes, Camb, 



Theridion annolipesi N. S. 

spmiventris, N. S. 
Dolichognatha Nietneri, N. S. 
Tetragnatha decorata, BL 

calta, N. S. 

ai^entula, N. S. 

Ceylonica, N. S. 
Phoroncida Thwaitesii, N. S. 
Nyctalops crassicaudata, N. S. 

tenuicaudata, N. S. 



Buthiis afcr, Linn. 
Scorpio Ceylanicus, Herbst. 
Chelifer librorum, Temp. 

Heterostoina spinosum, Kcwp. 
Scoloi»endra Ceylonensis, Ncwp. 

flaya, Netop. 

craasa, Temp. 

pallipes, Temp. 

tuberculideus, Kewp. 

Lepisma aurofasciata, Temp., T. £. S., 
iu. 30. 

Lonchodes flavicomas, Bates. 

I Lonchodes gralktor, B<Ues. 

furcatus, Bates. 

denticauda, Bates. 

asculator, Bates. 
Kecroscia janus, Bates. 

tenebnxsa. Bates. 

acutipennis, Bates. 
Bacillus scytale, Bates. 

Humberti, Bates. 
Harpax signifer, Walk. 
Phyllium siccifolium. 

curifolium, Fah. 
Mantis siccifolia, Fab. 

superstitiosa, Fob. 

Psyche Doabledii. Westw. 
Metisa plana, Westw. 
Eumeta Cranmerii, Westw. 
Templetonii, Westw. 

Himdo sangiiisorba, lAnn. 

Thwaitesu, N. S. 
Haemopis paludum. 
Hsmadipsa Ceylana, Blain. 

Mi-igascolez coeruleus, Temp. 

Filaria roeilinensis. 

The following families and genera of other insects are said to be found 

in the island. 






















































































































































































































Condensed from Sir E. Tennent's list and the Ann. Nat. His., a few of the 
names being expnnged and others added ; some of them are given doubtfully. 




The seas round Ceylon swarm with an almost endless 
Tariety of the finny tribe, presenting many strange and 
fjEuitastic shapes, nature in their formation revelling in every 
imaginable eccentricity of form and beauty of colour. To 
most persons fish are an uninteresting study, yet as Brillat 
Savarin remarks, they are relics of the ancient world, " truly 
antediluvian creatures surviving the mighty cataclysm which 
drowned our ancestors in the eighteenth century of the world, 
to them a time of joy and festivity." ^ 

Many Ceylon fish were described by Valentyn, Buysch, 
Block, Commerson, Sonnerat, L. Gronovius,' and others, 
their descriptions being subsequently incorporated in Cuvier's 
and Valenciennes' great work, containing in addition an 
account of many new specimens supplied by Reynaud, doctor 
of the French corvette Cheverette, some time in Ceylon, Les- 
chenault, and various travellers. In 1830 Mr. Bennet, a 
retired civil servant of Ceylon, published an account of thirty 
of the most remarkable of those caught about the island. 
Since then several collections have been made by Dr. Kelaart, 
Bleeker, and others, the whole of which are described in Dr. 
Giinther's work on fish, enumerating 6843 species firom all 
parts of the world, published by order of the trustees of the 
British Museum between 1859 and 1870. Cuvier and Valen- 
ciennes only described 777 species. The total number of the 
finny tribe in the world is supposed to be about 9000, and 
the British Museum contains 6177 specimens.^ 

^ Physiologie du GoCit, p. 70. ' GUnther, viii. pref. vL 

FISH. 243 

The real number of fish about Ceylon is not well known. Sir 
E. Tennent says "a collection of 600 drawings made in the 
island was submitted to Professor Huxley, but he did not con- 
sider it certain they were all distinct species, if so, it is the 
largest amount from any one locality in existence — even the 
Chinese and Japan seas have not yet yielded 800 species. 
Specific distinctions of fish cannot be discerned from draw- 
ings, their characters being made out from fins, rays, teeth, 
and operculum. The number of British fish is about 250, 
those of the Coromandel 200, and the Malay Archipelago 
238." 1 

The number of names given to each fish by naturalists and 
their arrangement in groups or families is very perplexing, no 
two naturalists agreeing on this point. The sizes and colours 
of fish also vary considerably, which must be taken into accoimt 
when reading descriptions of them, two persons describing the 
same fish giving very different tints. 

Fish are usually divided into two great families : Acantho- 
PTERYGH, or spine-finned fish, and Cartilaginous fish, named 
from the large amount of cartilage in their skeletons, forming 
soft and flexible rays, comprising sharks and rays. 

Berych)^. — The large Bed Sea perch {Holocentrum rubers 
Benn.^) called " ratto-pahaya " by the Sinhalese, about two 
feet long, of a bright red colour tinged with gold, is occa- 
sionally caught on the southern coast, but only eaten by the 
natives. H, diadem y Lacep. is a much smaller variety. Most 
of the Berycidce have large eyes and a flattish body ; some have 
thorny spikes projecting from their fins, as in the veiy curious 
single thorn fish of Japan {Monocentrus Japonicus). 

Percid^. — The genus Serranus,^ named from having a ser- 
rated operculum, are a beautiful family of perch with varied 
and bright colours. Among them may be named S, Sonneraii, 
a fine red with blue markings ; and S» marginalis, half a pale 
red and half yellow ; S.Jiavocccruleus has a slate -coloui'ed body, 
ending in blue near the tail, which with the fins is yellow. 
This is Bennet's Perca Jiavopurpttrea, " kaha-laweyha ** of the 
Sinhalese, a scarce fish, found in deep water, and considered 

* Tennent,! 281. 

' The smooth Serranus is sometimes caught off Cornwall — Yarrell, vol. i. 



good. The Diacopes are a dark-coloured family of perch, some 
being more blue than others ; D. spilura is a reddish purple. 
Some of the Lohotes of Cuvier have been called the black perch 
from their dark colours ; those foimd in Ceylon are a brownish 
grey. Mesoprion aurolineatus, another genus of perch, is an 
olive-green with four golden lines on each side. Dentix furco- 
9iiA8 is an oval-shaped fish of a pinkish colour. This genus 
is so named from having three or four long teeth. The 
four-toothed sparus (Dentix vulgaris) is caught on the coasts 
of England, a large size sometimes weighing 201bs. 

MuLLiD^. — Several species of mullet similar to those of 
Europe are found in the island, and one peculiar to it (Mul- 
laides Zeylonicus)^ which has barbels ; the colour is a carmine 
red mixed with yellow. Mtdlaides cinnabarinus, found about 
Trincomalee, is scarlet, and Upeneus vittatus is like the rayed 
or striped sur-mullet of Europe ; the flesh of all is considered 
good. Mullets were held in high estimation by Roman epicures, 
and fabulous prices given for them (Pliny, ix. 18)., 

Sparid-e. — Lethrinus erythrurus, an oval fish of a greenisli 
colour, about six inches long, is a species of bream (S. pag^rus), 
Chrysophrya hasta, one of Cuvier's Daurades, a big-headed, 
humpy-backed fish, resembles the " gilt-head " of England 
(C aurata). They received their nkme from the ancient Greeks 
on account of their golden-coloured eyebrows. 

Squamipinnes. — Under this name Cuvier included a niunber 
of flattish fish whose extraordinary forms are fantastic both in 
shape and colour — such as Chatodon, some of which are now 
classed with other genera. Chatodon pictus is of a general 
yellow, marked with parallel purple lines, pail of them running 
one way, and part another, with a broad black band across the 
eye. Some Chtetodons have a long tubulai' beak, and it is said 
they shoot small stones from them at insects and other fish, 
but this is doubtful. They are usually of small size. 

Triglida. — Several very remarkable fish allied to gumai'ds 
frequent Ceylon seas. One has received from the Sinhalese 
the title of " maha-ratto-gini," or gi'eat red fii-e-fish (Pterdis 
muricata} on account of its brilliant red and scarlet hues, a very 

^ Seorptma miles, Benn. 

FISH. 24f5 

voracious species inhabiting rocky places. Pterois volitans^ 
** maha-gini " (great fire-fish), is a smaller species of the above, 
less red in colour, and distinguished by an extraordinary de- 
velopment of its pectoral and dorsal fins, ending in a number 
of sharp spines, of which the native fishermen are rather afraid, 
considering a wound inflicted by them as poisonous ; it has 
also four barbels or filaments hanging from the eyebrows and 
mouth. The flesh of this fish is considered good by the 
natives. It was supposed formerly that like the flying gurnard 
{Dactylopterm volltans), the Pterois, in consequence of its 
large pectoral fins, could fly Ukewise, but such is not the case. 

ScLExm^. — Corvina miles and Otolithus are pale-coloured 
fish, which, as well as some of the SiUago, are erroneously 
■called whitings by Europeans in India; it is doubtful if the 
real whiting {Gadus merlangus) is found there or in Ceylon. 

ScoMBERiD^. — The Seer fish {Cyhum guttatum), one of the 
mackerel family, found about the island, attains a length of 
three feet, and is considered the finest fish in the Indian 
Ocean ; the flesh is white, with the flavour of salmon. The 
little pilot fish {Naucrates ductor) is one of the Scomberida. 
The bonito (Thynnua pelamys) and the albicore, a species of 
tunny (Scomber thynnus) are only found in tropical seas. Their 
fiesh when dried is called kummelmus, much used all over 
India and Ceylon, grated on rice and put into vegetable curries 
to render them more savoury. It is prepared by removing the 
flesh fi'om the back bone and sprinkling it with saltwater; 
after a time it is wrapped up in cocoa-nut leaves and buried in 
the sand, when it becomes quite hard and like a piece of dark 
wood. Pliny mentions dried fish resembling an oaken board 
made of tunny in the Mediterranean (ix. 18) ; and Ibn 
Batuta describes the manufacture of kummelmus in the Mal- 
dives 500 years ago, where most of it is made at the present 

^ S. volitans, Benn. 

^ " On coupe chaque poisson en quatre morceaux, on le fait cnire Ug^rement, puis 
on le place dans des panien de feuilles de palmier, et on le suspend ^ la fum^. 
Lorsqu'il est parfaitement sec, on le mange. De ce pays, on en transporte danB 
I'Inde k la Cl^e, et au Yemen.*' — ^Trad. Defremeiy, iv. 112. 


Echenis. — One of the Eemora, or sucking-fish (E, sctitata)^ 
found in Ceylon seas, is distinguished by the unusual siize of 
its disk, nearly half the fish's total length, which is twenty 
inches.^ Sucking-fish are mentioned by Aristotle, ^lian, 
Pliny, and other ancient authors, who imagined they could 
stop a vessel by adhering to it. Dampier speaks of find- 
ing them attached to the sides of his ship in the eastern 
seas. They also fasten themselves to floating pieces of timber 
or to other fish, especially sharks, these monsters of the deep 
being commonly found with two or three fastened on them^ 
Abu-Zaid mentions it and the sailor-fish, among the wonders 
of the seas of Serendib. 

CarangicUs, — Among this family are what are called cobbler- 
fish, from the bristle-like filaments which project from their 
dorsal and ventral fins. They have a flattish round form 
of body, generally of a pale yellow colour, marked by dark 
bands. Plantax vespertilio,^ "kola-handu" of the Sinhalese, 
as its name implies, has some resemblance to a bat in the 
extraordinary development of its dorsal and ventral fins, in 
addition to which a fin hangs from its under jaw something 
like the beard of a goat ; it is called the goat-fish by 
the Malays. The general colour of this strange and scarce 
species is a bright orange, and the ordinary size about one 

XiPHiiD^. — Xiphias gladius, the common sword-fish, is 
abundant in eastern seas, a fish renowned among the ancients 
for its courage and enmity to the whale,^ but it is doubtful if 
it has any instinct of the kind, although some instances have 
been recorded of whales being found pierced by their sword- 
like beaks ; they have also been found sticking in the sides of 
ships, broken off by the force of the shock. Pliny (ix. 6) 
speaks of another fish hostile to the whale, which some sup- 
pose to refer to the dolphin. 

A species of sword-fish {Histiophorus iminaculatus) said to 
attain a length of twenty feet in the Indian seas, is called the 

* Ann. Nat. Hist., v. 389, new series. 
' CluBtodon vespertiliOf Benn. 
» ^Uan, xiv. 23 ; Plin. xxxii. 8. 

FISH. 247 


" sail or sailor-fish," from the immense size of the dorsal fin, 
which being frequently raised above the water has given rise 
to an idea that it answers the purpose of a sail and propels 
the fish along. There are two varieties, one having a blue 
dorsal fin and the other a brown, the shape also differs with 
those that frequent the Indian seas"; the fin developes, with 
the size of the fish, but in the Mediterranean species it dis- 
appears with age. The Indian species are also distinguished 
by two long filaments hanging from the pectoral fin. 

PEDicuiiATi. — The walking-fish (Antennarim) forms one of 
those links between diverse species so common in nature, the 
bones of the carpus and pectoral fins being developed into 
rudimentary arms or limbs, ending in a kind of claw, which 
enables them to progress along the bottom of the sea by a 
crawling movement, but their chief locomotive organ is the 
tail. This development of the pectoral member is also found 
in all the Lophote family to which the Antennarius are allied. 
The Lophotes are called anglers and fishing frogs in England 
from their wide mouths, and lie concealed in the mud, only 
displaying a flexible horn on their nose, wriggling like a worm 
to decoy small fish within their reach. Antennarim are usually 
of small size and a yellow colour, with brown streaks radiating 
from their eyes, and have a little horn on the nose. iElian is 
supposed to allude to them, saying, " There are fish in the 
Indian seas with feet instead of fins " (1. xvi. 18). 

Blenniid^ are an unpleasant-looking genus of spotted fish, 
among which is the sea-wolf of Northern Europe. 

Salaries alticuSy Cuvier's " Sauteur," is a very nimble little 
half-amphibious species, found on wet rocks and sand washed 
by the surf, over which they propel themselves with great 
speed and facility. They are a grey colour in the water, but 
become blue when removed from it. 

Acanthurua is a genus of oval-shaped fish with rich 
colouring and armed with a sharp spur, concealed in a 
sheath-like hollow on each side near the tail, which has ob- 
tained for them the name of sea surgeon and phlebotomist. 
A. vittatus, Benn.,^ "seweya" of the Sinhalese, is a scarce fish, 

» A, lineatvs. Cur. D'Orbigny, Die. N. H. 


more than a foot long, of a blue and gold colour arranged in 
stripes. Allied to them is the nnicom-fish {Xtueus unicomus), 
named from the long nose or beak projecting above the moathy 
of various lengths in different species. 

PoMACEXTRiDx. — Among this £Eanilj are three cmioas little 
fish. Chatodon Brownrlggii, ''kaha bartikyah'* of the Sin- 
halese, is only two inches long, with a yellow body and fins 
and purple streaks along the back. Amphiprion Clarkii} 
about four inches in length, has a yellow head, tail, and 
ventral fins, and purple body, with a pure white diagonal 
band. Dascyllus aruanus is a slate-colour, with three white 
perpendicular bands. 

Labrid-s:. — Several genera offish, chiefly Sea ru« and/Span^, 
are now grouped together under the general name of Labrida, 
or lip-fish, being distinguished by thick fleshy lips. They are 
principally herbaceous fish, or those " who browse on coral and 
other LiiJiophiftes growing in the sea, just as ruminant aniniAk 
crop the green herbage of the dry land. Their teeth consist 
of strata of prismatic denticles standing vertically, admirably 
adapted to their habits and exigencies." ^ Their form generally 
resembles that of a perch, and in colouring they are the most 
beautiful of all the tropical fish, living gems of the ocean, but 
have a bad reputation as food, many of them being poisonous. 
Several of the most remarkable are called " girawah" (Parrot- 
fish) by the Sinhalese. Sparus decussatus, " hembili-girawah," 
or basket parrot-fish, is a bright green colour with yellow 
markings like basket-work. Julis dorsalis,^ " mal-girawah," 
or flower parrot-fish, has a crimson and gi*een head, while 
green, crimson, white, grey, blue, and yellow are scattered in 
patches over the body, and the upper part has several per- 
pendicular black bands. Scarus harid* '* laboo-girawah," is 
a very scarce and exceedingly beautiful fish with tesselated 
markings in pale blue on a yellow ground, the tail is yellow 
and the fins brown. Gomphosus viridus of Bennet* is a beaked 
fish of a deep green colour, very scarce, called the "talipat- 

* Bennet, Cey. Fiflhes. * Owen, "Anatomy of Vcrtebrata," i. 378. 

' Sparus HardwiekUy Benn. ^ Scanupepo, Benn. 

* G, cioruletu, Cuv. 

PISH. 249 

girawah." G. fuscua is a brown-coloured variety, named 
** koppera-girawah " by the natives, and G. tricolor is green, 
with a broad oblique yellow band across the shoulders, and 
violet pectoral fins. 

ScoMBRESociDJE. — Many varieties of half-beaks, or gar-fish 
(Belone), are found in Indian seas, both in salt and fresh 
water. The head and beak are neai'ly as long as the body. 

Exocatus. — Flying-fish, in form and colour resemble herrings, 
the pectoral fin is developed into a kind of wing which sus- 
tains them in the air when they leap out of the sea, and scud 
over the waves some forty or fifty yards, when they drop into 
the water again ; it is doubtful if they ever flap or use their 
wings as birds do, and on this point there is a great difference 
of opinion, it not being an easy matter to ascertain with cer- 
tainty, as their flight out of the water and into it again is 
both sudden and rapid. Vessels in the tropics constantly 
send shoals of them flying jfrom under their bows as they sail 
along, and at night they occasionally fly on board, being 
attracted by the lights. 

It is often stated in books that "the poor flying-fish have a 
bad time of it, being incessantly pursued by dolphins and 
other voracious fish, leaping from the water to escape them, 
and when in the air are poimced upon by sea birds." This is 
a mistake, they are rarely touched by sea birds, and often 
leave the water when no pursuing fish are near,. although, no 
doubt, they are much preyed upon by hungry dolphins and 
bonitos. Some flying-fish have barbels, as the Exocattcs 
Dussumieri, and others have short pectoral fins. JEJ. altipennis 
has a spiny dorsal fin near the tail, and a reddish streak 
along the back. They are occasionally sold in the Colombo 

Clupeid^. — Eastern s^as are frequented by vast shoals of 
Clupea and Engraulis, variously called sardines, sprats, or 
anchovies; they are occasionally caught on the shores of 
Ceylon, Malabar, Java, and other places in such myriads as 
to rival those of European waters, swimming near the surface 
and making short leaps above the sea as they go along. Friar 
Odoric mentions the great shoals of small fish he saw near 


Java. One of the Engranlis,^ made into a condiment called 
" red fish " by the Malays, occasionally visits the Sea of 
Madura. Two species of sardine are found on the coasts of 
Ceylon, Sardinella leiogaster, and S. neohotvii, caHed the oil 
sardine. Engraulis Brownil, Cuv., is a species of anchovy, 
and Albida conorhynchus, a perfectly white variety of hening. 

MuR^NiD^ are common in tropical seas, including black 
and conger eels. Angmlla mauritiana is the yellow spotted 
murana of the Mediterranean, so much praised by Roman 
epicures of old, who ai'e said to have fed them with their 
slaves. Murcenichthys vemiifonnis is a verj^ fine thread-like 
eel. Murana macrurm, Bleek., has been found ten feet long. 

Congers and several allied species of eels are now thought 
by some naturalists to undergo a metamorphosis when young, 
something similar to the change from the tadpole to the frog, 
and to be what are called glass eels {Leptocephalid<je), tape- 
worm like fish with a low organization, foimd both in European 
and tropical seas.^ 

Syngnathid^, or pipe-fish, are occasionally seen in eastern 
seas, some entering fresh waters. The head of these curious 
fish runs out into a long tubular snout, half the length of the 
body ; and the male fish carry their ova in a kind of pouch 
formed of cutaneous folds near the tail. 

The sea-horse (Hippocampus), although found in India and 
the eastern coast of Africa, has not yet been noticed in Ceylon. 

Plectognathi. — Sclerodenni, in their general formation, 
present some analogy to the tortoise, being covered with 
either an exceedingly tough or homj skin. In the singular 
variety called "coflfer or trunk-fish" (Ostracion cuhiciis), about 
fifteen inches long, the skin forms a kind of cuirass composed 
of a number of small quadrangular compartments joined to- 
gether, the fins and tail working in sockets formed in the 
shell. Some species have triangular, others sexangular skins. 
The Balistes, or trigger-fish, another genus with a leathery 
skin, are armed with sharp spines along the back or sides, 

* Sometimes called Athcrina Japonka, but the true Atherina is another 
genus of fish, Cuvier, x. 422, 458. 
2 Gunther, viii. 136. 

FISH. 251 

which they can suddenly project out. B. viridus has six of 
them on each side, near the tail. B, biaculeatvs, *' rattoo* 
potobarah " of the Sinhalese, is about nine inches long, of an 
olive colour, with several narrow red diagonal bands and a 
red tail. 

Gymnodontes. — Urchin-fish and balloon-fish (Diodon) are 
allied to Sclerodermi, and mostly round like a ball, having the 
power of inflating themselves to float on the sea, and are 
generally richly coloured. Tetrodon ocellatus, "jub-poto- 
barah " of the Sinhalese, about five inches in diameter, is a 
green and yellow colour, with a blue eye on the back. 
Tetrodon fluvialis, found in the fresh waters of Ceylon and the 
Ganges, is a kind of urchin-fish, with rather a smooth skin, 
having hidden spines or pricldes. 

ScYLLiDJE. — The most remarkable of the dog-fish, Mustelus, 
Scyllium, &c., found in Ceylon is the Stegostoma tigrinum, a 
brownish-yellow marked with black or brown stripes, like a 
tiger, and attains a length of six feet. 

Sharks. — There are said to be 140 different species of sharks 
in various parts of the world. The white shark^ is the most 
dreaded and common in tropical seas. Large numbers of im- 
mense size are taken at Calpentyn, and other parts of Ceylon, 
for the sake of their oil and fins, which are dried and sent to 
China, where they are made into a thick glutinous soup, 
which forms one of the delights of the Chinese epicures, who 
think it far superior to turtle soup. Sharks' skins are covered 
with rough stony tubercles, said to form the substance called 
shagreen manufactured in China. 

The blue shark (Squalus glaucxis) and the extraordinary 
hammer-headed shark {Sphyrnias sygisna) are found in Indian 

Sharks are usually accompanied by two or three little cross- 
barred, blue and white pilot-fish (Nauerates ductor), and there 
is something mysterious in the connection between them that 
has never been satisfactorily explained. The arrival of a 
shark in the wake of a vessel is generally announced a day or 
two before by the appearance of the pilot-fish alone, and after 

^ Charcharodon Rondeletii, 


a short stay they disappear, returning in company with the 
shark, and have heen known to follow ships some days after a 
shark has been caught. 

Pristinidje. — Saw-fish attain an immense size in Ceylon, 
being caught upwards of eighteen feet long ; they resemble sharks 
in the body, but have a long flat beak armed with teeth pro- 
jecting on each side forming a double saw, and are formidable 
inhabitants of the deep, charging, it is said, among a shoal of 
smaller fish, slaving right and left, and then devoiu-ing their 
victims at leisure. 

Eajida. — Ceylon seas swainn with rays. Among the common 
species is the thorny ray {Raja asperima). The Raja narinari,^ 
a remarkable species with a head more like a bird than a fish, 
and a very long tail, is either identical or allied to the sea- 
eagle of the Greeks {Raia aqulla of Linnaeus), foimd in the 
Mediterranean, where it is said to attain a weight of 800 lbs., 
and some have been found about Ceylon twenty feet broad. 
They are supposed to Uve on shell-fish, being provided with a 
jaw and mouth of peculiar construction, filled with many rows 
of short teeth arranged in quincunx, capable of crushing the 
largest and hardest shells, and have lately been making great 
ravages among the pearl oysters {Vide ch. xxx.) 

An allied genus of ray called the sea-devil {Raja diaholus), 
Diable de mer of the French, has a hundred rows of teeth, 
and, according to accounts, aj^proaches the dimensions of a 
small islet, being probably the creature alluded to by Sinbad, 
who speaks of a fish as large as an island. They are occa- 
sionally seen in the Indian seas, at Manilla and on the coast of 
Brazil. LevaiUant says on his voyage round the Cape of Good 
Hope, " one struck against the ship's rudder with such force 
they thought they had run on a rock, and it seemed to be 
nearly as long as their vessel ; they caught one afterwards 
twenty-eight feet long, and twenty-one feet wide, with a thick- 
ness of twenty-two inches." ^ 

Poisonous Jish. — Many of the fish that have been described 

^ PrisUs anliqtu>rum, liath. 

* Myliobalen narinari, Cuv., Diet. Nat. 

' Voyage, v. 1, 4. 

FISH. 258 

are more or less poisonous — as the Scarus, the unicorn-fish, 
most of the trigger-fish, the balloon-fish, the clupea, the boneto, 
and the sardines. Numbers of prisoners confined in the gaol 
at Chilaw were poisoned in 1829 from eating sardines, and 
fishermen often die &om the same cause. In 1824 a law was 
passed forbidding persons to catch them during the months of 
December and January, the time of the year when they are 
considered dangerous. 

The hawk's-bill turtle (Caretta imbricata) and the edible 
turtle (C midas) are always unwholesome and often poisonous. 
Great numbers of them are eaten by the natives notwithstand- 
ing the frequent fatal results. In 1841 twenty-eight persons 
were poisoned, of whom eighteen died during the night, from 
eating the edible turtle ; no difference, it is said, was percept- 
ible in its appearance, only it was fatter than usual.^ 

This subject is one involved in much mystery, and no very 
satisfactory explanation has been offered why a fish should be 
poisonous at one time of the year and not so at another. In 
the Annals of Nat. Hist, for 1867 there is a review of a work 
on poisonous fish by M. Dimieril, who enters fully into the 
subject. At Bourbon and Mauritius none of the Scari are 
eaten between December and March, the season when coral is 
growing, as these fish eat great quantities of polypi. The 
sardine of the Antilles (Harengula humeralia) causes fever and 
even death when captured near vessels sheathed with copper, 
or when they have eaten Physalia. The Guadaloupe sardine is 
dangerous at all times. 

Fish captured by means of menispermads, Veratrum sabadilla, 
Hydnocarpus inebriana, and some other plants thrown into the 
water, are dangerous, but they are innocuous from Bar ringtonia 
speciosa, Calophyllum, and Cerbera achonau 

Some fish are piore venomous when old than when young. 
Caranxfallax is forbidden to be sold at Havana if they weigh 
more than one " kilo," and this is a rule with suspected fish 
in the West Indies. The ova of pike, barbel, and burbots are 
purgative and dangerous during spawning time. The becuna 
of the Antilles {Sphyrana becuna) are poisonous when the roots 

> •* Colombo Observer/' Oct 27, 1841. 


x)f their teeth are not black. Mackerel of St. Helena are con- 
stantly poisonous if kept for a single night, and bonito should 
be very fresh when eaten. If a silver spoon becomes black, 
forming sulphate of silver when plunged into a vessel in which 
fish are being cooked, it is a sign they are poisonous, but is not 

T, oceUatus is one of the most poisonous of fish. It is said 
when the Japanese wish to commit suicide they eat them ; yet 
they are an article of food in China and Egypt, requiring, how- 
ever, great care in cleaning. Another very venomous fish is 
the clupa of the Antilles (Meletta thrissa), so much so that fish 
who eat them are suspected ; and M. venenosa of Indiftn seas 
is equally noxious. 

Fresh-water fish swarm in all the lower parts of Ceylon. 
Knox very aptly remarks " that every ditch and little splash 
of water hath fish in it," and although they are rarely eaten 
by Europeans, the Sinhalese use them habitually for food. 
Sir S. Baker says he ate some called '*loola" by the natives 
{Ophiocephalus striaius), and found them excellent.^ It is only 
within recent years that anything has been known about the 
fresh-water fish of Ceylon, several persons in the colony having 
made collections which have been brought to Europe, and 
found their way into the British Museum by purchase or gift ; 
they are described in Giinther's work. Dr. Bleeker has also 
described several new species in Dutch periodicals devoted to 
natural history. 

Cyprinida and Siluridce are the most common, also mullets, 
perch,, and gobies, found chiefly about the muddy mouths of 
rivers. None of the small silurads inhabiting the mountain 
streams of India have been noticed, although a kind -of dace, 
with four barbels (Danio micronema), of the rocky rivers of the 
Sikkim Himalaya has been taken in the mountain streams of 
the island. 

Travelling and burying fish. — It is now a well-established 
fact that in all tropical and very warm climates there are many 
species of fresh-water fish that can Uve a long time without 
water, and travel from one part to another, or bury in the mud 

» "Rifle and Hound," p. 45. 

FISH. 255 

as tanks dry up from the great heat and long absence of rain. 
It is remarkable that although the ancient Greeks and Bomans 
were aware of the existence of travelling and burying fish in 
India, almost none of the mediaeval and modem ^ writers or 

' Sir £. Tennenti i 219, writing of burying fish, says, " The Mareb, one of 
the sources of the Nile, the waters of which are partly absorbed in traversing the 
plains of Taka ; during summer its bed is dry, and in the slime at the depth of 
more than six feet, is found a species of fish without scales." In this he appears 
to have confounded the account given by Quatrem^re, M6m. sur TEgypte, iL 17, 
of fish dug up at Dongola in Nubia, with that given in a note where he quotes 
Le Grand, who cites an MS. of the Patriarch Mendes (Relation du Pdre Lobo), 
fiaying, '* when the Portuguese made war in Abyssinia, by digging in the sand 
where the river Mareb lost itself, they found good water and fish." ** La riviere 
tombe d'un rocher et se cache sous terre ; lorsque les Portuguais ont fait la 
guerre en ces pais 1^ ils fouiiloient dans le sable et y trouvoient de la bonne eau et 
<du bon poisson," p. 213. R. P. Manoel d'Almeida, a Jesuit, who had previously 
described this place, says nothing about the Portuguese. His words are, ' * La riviere 
appel6 Mareb commence dans le Royaume de Tigre k deux lieues de Baroa . . . 
et prenant apr^ son cours vers le sud, entre dans un pays des Cafifers, od il n'y a 
presque que des sablons, sous lesquels elle se cache une grande espace de 
•chemin ; ceux de pays ne laissent pas d'eau boire en creusant neuf ou dix pieds en 
terre et mesme ils y peschent de bon poisson," p. 5, ed. Douai, 1673. The place 
thus described is in Abyssinia, and a long way from Dongola in Nubia^ where the 
large fish without scales were dug up, as mentioned in Quatrem^re, and Manoel's 
description does not seem to refer to burying fish. Sir £. Tennent adds in a note, 
''the account of Mendes is confirmed in a MS. of Manoel in the British Museum, 
from which Balthazar Teilez compiled his history of Ethiopia, who says he was 
told by Jofto Gabriel, a creole Portuguese, bom in Abyssinia, who had visited 
Mareb, that fish were to be found everywhere .... and that he had eaten 
them." In the French edition of Manoel ah-eady quoted, which was taken from 
Balthazar Teilez, Gabriel is called the chief of the Portuguese, but there is no 
allusion to fish of any kind in connection with him ; evidently there is some con- 
fusion here. There is no mention of this circumstance in Padre Lobo's account 
of Abyssinia, neither in the French edition 1673, nor in Pinkertou's Collection of 
Travels. Sir E. Tennent, writing of the little knowledge Europeans had of 
migratory fish, says, ** Beckman, who in 1736 published his commentary on the 
collection Tltpi Bavfuiaittp iucotHTfiarotyf ascribed to Aristotle, has given a list of the 
authorities about his own time — G. Agricola, Gesner, Rondelet, Dalechamp, 
Bomare, and Gronovius, who not only gave credence to the assertions of Theo- 
phrastus, but adduced modem instances in corroboration of his Indian authori- 
ties,*' i. 229. This Beckman was not bom until 1739, and published his com- 
mentary on the "Mirabilibus auscultationibus" at Gottingen, in 1786. Again, 
so far from Rondelet being a contemporary of his, the French naturalist was born 
in 1507, and he only adduces the instance of the eel which can stniggle some 
distance through wet glass, as a reason for supposing the statement of Theophras- 
tus to be trae. Vide ** Rondeletius de Piscibus," Lyon, 1558. Dalechamp aud 
C. Gesner lived about the same time as Rondelet, and L. Gronovius published his 
work on fish in 1754, and his brother in 1763. 


tfmrdkrs app^^n^ to ikste knovn aa i tliin g a&ooi tbeai, vnifl 
BImJi, in tibi^ middk of &e bet eeotarr, desaibsd Bomt 
Opkdoe^efkmha Ouil were msA finom TrrnqvelMr. 

Tbeoplintftns, m papO of Aristode, iht first to Dotke these 
mgahr fi^ w^, '* There sre in the Indies fish which psss 
ptat id their time on land, karing the rir^s to wander about 
Uke froffLT He ako mentions a spedts near Babylon which, 
'^ when the rirer nms low leare the dry rK^Ttrw^l in search of 
Ibod, mofing bj their tails and fins,^ and otho^ that were 
dng up at Heraclea Pontos. Flinj (ix. 35 — 83), qnoting 
Theopfarastns, remari^ " There are in the rirers of India 
6%b. winch come on shore, passing orer into standing waters 
and streams to ^wwn.'* Aristotle,^ Strabo, Juvenal, and 
Seneca also mention them in other places, bnt the two latter 
ridicule the idea, and Pol jbins has written about fish that were 
found nnder gronnd near Narbonne — probably fossOs, as there 
are none of the genus of fish we are describing in Europe. 

The sudden appearance of full-grown fish in places flooded 
by the monsoons which were previously quite dry, has given 
rise to many conjectures, and some supposed they £dl firom the 
clouds, but there is no doubt they migrate during the rains. 
Towards the end of the dry season, as pools and tanks dry 
up, some of the fish in them gradually sink into the muddy 
bottom, where they remain until the rains liberate them, while 
the majority make their way out to rivers and other places 
where there is water, returning during the change of the mon- 
soons, being guided by their instinct, which tells them that 
their old haunts are again full. Quantities are caught by the 
natives in the manner described by Knox : " when the ponds 
are drying up they jibb down a funnel-shaped basket, and the 
end sticks in the mud, which often happens on a fish which, 
when they feel beating against the sides, they take it out and 
reve a rattan through its gills."* 

Pallegoix asserts that in Siam fish will wander more than a 
league from water; he says, "some years since a. great heat 
dried up all the ponds near Anyuthia ; during the night tor- 
rents of rain fell ; next day, going for a walk into the country, 

' Hiit. Anim., ri. 15 ; De Reap., cL ix. * RektioD, p. 20. 

FISH. 257 

great was my surprise at seeing the ponds almost full, and a 
quantity of fish leaping about. A labourer told me, on my in- 
quiring where they came from, that they arrived during the 
rain." Again, he says, " the Bishop in 1831 bought a number 
of live fish and put them into a pond, but in less than a month 
they all escaped during rain that fell at night." ^ 

Herodotus surmised that the fish found in places inundated 
by the Nile were produced from the spawn of the previous 
year which had remained in the mud, and Mr. Yarrell, in his 
** History of British Fish," revives the idea,^ but the fish 
found in places flooded by the monsoons are full-grown ones. 
It is also very doubtful that any ova is deposited in places 
subject to periodical drying up, as it would probably be 
destroyed by the heat of the sun. 

It has been stated^ that fish are often dug up by the natives 
in Ceylon from the beds of tanks and places "where the suV' 
Uice IB quite dry, the clay below in which they are found alive, 
being firm but moist.''* It is a question whether this is not a 
mistake, imless there was some aperture to admit air. The 
Rev. Mr. Boake, long resident in Ceylon, " doubts if fish have 
ever been so found in the island, as he has often offered re- 
wards imsuccessfully to the natives for them." * They can, 
however, exist in mud so thick it would be impossible for it to 
pass through their gills, by taking in air from the surface at 
intervals, being, he says, air-breathers, which he ascertained by 
experiment : a number of fish were placed in water covered by 
a net, so that they could not reach the surface ; after a short 
time it was found they made violent efforts to reach the air, 
and all eventually died from want of it — the Anahis in an hour 
imd a quarter, and the Ophiocephalice and (Clarias Teysmanni), 
one of the Siluridce, in about six hours. Cuvier accounted 
for the Anabis and Ophiocephalice being able to travel 
over dry land from the peculiar construction of their gills, 
having labyrintliiform pharyngeal bones forming cells, which 
retain moisture, and an intestinal sac containing a reserve of 
water.* But the experiments of Mr. Boake tend to show that 

* Trav. in Siam, 1113, 193. * Intro. xxvL » Tennent. 

* J. Cey. R. A. S., 1865. » Hiat. des Pois., vii 899, 380. 

VOL. II. 8 


they are as much amphibia as fish in their natures, and must 
have either lungs as well as gills, or some unexplained means 
of breathing air. In the case of the Anahis it seems as dif- 
ficult to explain why they should require to breathe air at 
intervals, as why some fish have no air-bladder — such as flat 
fish and mackerel, or why the bladders of perch and some other 
fish are closed. 

Tnie fish breathe water by means of gills ; to respire air, 
aquatic animals, according to naturalists, require both gills 
and lungs — as the Siren laccrtina, an eel-shaped fish of the 
marshes of South Carolina, and the Proteiis of Camiola ; how- 
ever, recent investigations, it is said, " show that the air-bags 
of fish are organs analogous to the lowest rudimentary state of 
lungs in the higher animals, and difi*er little from the lungs of 
the Proteus, yet the respiration of atmospheric air has been 
proved quite unnecessary to the Proteus, although classed as 
an amphibian, and, as well as the mud-fish, often rises to tlie 
surface to take in air, though it never appears to enter the 
rudimentary lungs, being invariably expelled by the branchial 
apertures; they also never show any disposition to emerge 
from the water as amphibia proper do."^ 

Many instances are given of fish without respiratoiy organs, 
being dug up in vai'ious parts of the world, and their gills are 
probably kei)t moist by internal means to enable them to exist 
infirm clay without breathing water through them. The Dutch 
keep carp alive for more than three weeks by hanging them up 
in a cool place surrounded with damp moss in a net, feedinj; 
them with bread soaked in milk. The Callicthys Uttoralis, or 
bush-fish of South America, are said to exist in muddy lakes 
without any water, and great numbers of them are sometimes 
dug up. The author of " Ayen Akbery '' relates that in the 
Soobah of Kashmir, after the rainy reason and the water has 
subsided, the inhabitants take sticks an ell long, which they 
work about in the mud, and find large fish.- In the annals of 
Natm-al History for 1867 there is an account of a new species 
of mud-fish {Neochanna apodu) devoid of ventral fins, recently 

* " Land and Water," June, 1876. 

- Gladwin's Vera, 1782, p. 166 ; Bosc. Mig. Fish of Carolina, P. Z. S., 1856. 

FISH. ?.o.9 

dug up in New Zealand foui* feet from the surface in a stiff 
clay among the roots of trees, thirty-seven feet above the level 
of the river, having been at one time a back-water during floods. 
When the fish were extracted and placed in water they moved 
a little, but soon died, and are surmised to have been buried 
many years. The early settlers in the same colony are stated 
to have often dug up fish along with the potatoes they had 
planted in swampy ground. The hybernation of eels in cold 
weather has been already mentioned. They are frequently 
captured in muddy places with spears thrust into the slime in 
tidal rivers when the water is low, and are said when confined 
in ponds to become restless in the month of August, and try tc 
eff'ect their escape from them. 

The remarkable Lepidonren ajinectens, a mud-fish of South 
Africa, in its outward form and internal organization, is inter- 
mediate between fish and reptiles. Some regard it as an 
amphibian, others, although it possesses lungs, say it ought to 
rank as a fish, its gills being covered by opercula, and not ex- 
posed as in amphibia proper.^ Some of them in the menagerie 
at Paris were induced to cestivate in the mud of the aquarium, 
which was allowed to harden and crack by draining off the 
water. Eleven weeks after the disappearance of the fish below, 
they were found enveloped in cocoons moulded in the block 
of mud and alive, mo\4ng when touched. An abundant 
mucosity appears on their bodies about the time of aestivation, 
this agglutinates the portion of the soil they traverse, so that 
the walls of the subterranean canal made by the animal when 
descending remain open after desiccation, admitting air, and 
when it stops forms the cocoon, having a hole near the mouth. 
The Lepidosircn does not breathe through the nostrils, which 
are two blind sacs as in fish. 

Dr. John Hunter, the celebrated surgeon, remarks in one 
of his works, that hybernation in the animal kingdom is not 
altogether the result of cold, but in a great measure proceeds 
from the usual supply of food being cut off by the frost. This 
theor}' is exemplified in many instances in Ceylon and tropical 
climates, where the bat and other creatures who can obtain 

' Jones, Anim. Kingd. p. 714, ed. 1871 ; Ann. Nat Hist, 1866, pp. 160, 715. 

8 2 



food remain in activity all the year, while many aqnatie 
animals sestivate during the dry season, which puts a stop 
to their means of sustenance. It was also shown in the 
case of a Lejpidosiren, in the zoological department of the 
Crystal Palace, London, which in its native country habi- 
tually buries itself in the mud during the dry season, being 
a species that cannot travel ; but in its new home in England 
showed no disposition to aestivate, because it was constantly 
supplied with food, although a quantity of mud was placed in 
the aquarium to induce it to do so. It was fed with frogs, 
and found to be very voracious, devouring the gold-fish in the 
basin, and increased rapidly in size — growing from ten to 
thirty inches in length in three years. 

Labyrinthici. — The most remarkable of the travelling fish 
is the Anabis scandens, "kannaya," of the Sinhalese, and "pani- 
yeri,*' or tree climber of the Tamils, also called the ** sennal" 
and travelling perch, but it is not a perch strictly speaking, 
although very Uke one in appearance. They usually migrate 
during showers, or when the dew is heavy at night, but are 
said to have been seen moving along a dusty road in the day- 
time,^ using their strong pectoral fins to propel themselves 
forward. The doras, or travelling fish of Guiana, according to 
Sii' R. Schombiurgk, move in a similar manner, and at a pretty 
quick rate.* Sii' J. Bowring says, when ascending the river 
Meinan in Siam he was amused at the novel sight of fisli 
leaving the river, gliding over the wet banks, and losing them- 
selves among the trees of the jungle.''^ 

The Anabis was first brought to the notice of Europeans in 
1791 by Lieut. Daldorf of the Danish settlement at Tranque- 
bar, on the Coromandel coast, who stated he '* saw one in a 
moist cavity two yards up the trunk of a palmyra palm which 
grew near a lake, and that it was struggling to get higher when 
he seized it in his hand.** This relation, which is given in the 
third volume of the ** Transactions of the Linnean Society,'* 
created quite a sensation among the learned of the time. 
Although Abu Zaid a thousand years since mentioned that 

* Layard, Ann. Nat. Hist., 1853, p. 390. * Naturalist's Lib., xxx. 118. 

' Trar. in Siam, i. 10. 

FISH. 261 

there were climbing-fish in India *' ascending palm-trees to 
drink their juice, and then returning to the sea/' 

Considerable doubt has been thrown on the statement, and 
the tree climbing suspected to be a very rare circumstance ; 
there is no occasion on which the Anabis have ever] been seen 
b}' a European in Ceylon when thus engaged, nor by any in 
India since Daldorf and another Dane saw them, although the 
Tamils are perfectly aware of this propensity and express no 
surprise at it, but the Anabis frequently climb over fish- weirs 
and enclosures in rivers, and for this reason the Sinhalese 
sometimes cover these places with nets to prevent their 
escaping. H. Buchanan, in his account of the Ganges fishes, 
doubts it altogether, and says they can only travel over level 
gi'ound. The subject was revived in 1864 by Captain Mitchell 
in the Annals of Nat. Hist., writing from Madras on the testi- 
mony of a Tamil Moodliar and other natives, and there appears 
to be no reason to doubt, ** however strange it may appear, 
that the A nahis does in reality climb several feet up palmyras 
during heavy rains when the water runs down the trunks of the 
trees, but only in particular localities where palms grow near 
the sides of tanks," the probable object being to search for the 
numerous insects that are found in the hollows at the base of 
the leaves. 

There are two species found in Ceylon, one identical with 
that described by Cuvier ; and a smaller variety A • oligokpis 
about four inches long. Also a Polyacanihus called ** pooloota ** 
by the Sinhalese, resembling ihe Anabis, of a reddish olive colour. 

Ophiocephalida have heads resembling snakes with narrow 
bodies of an olive colour, some are striped diagonally. There 
being several varieties called " loola," " connia," &c. by the 
natives, and are very common in shallow weedy tanks and 
muddy marshes, also in the Ganges, H. Buchanan^ states they 
are kept alive for five or six days by the Hindus in earthen 
vessels without water. The jugglers of Calcutta exhibit them 
in the bazaars to amuse the crowd with their movements, and 
they are found sometimes so far from water, the natives imagine 
they fall from the clouds. 

1 ** Fish of the Ganges/ ed. 1822. 


GoBiDiiE. — Two species of Pcriophthahnvs are also able to 
progress out of water in humid places for a short distance, 
hunting after insects. A great portion of the base of the 
pectoral fin in this genus is very scaly and furnished with 
strong muscles, which they use for locomotion on land.^ 
They are remarkable looking fish, very like gobies in Eng- 
land, with a peculiar head, and rather long body of a light 
olive brown colour and a violet dorsal fin with a black band. 
P. papilio has a double dorsal fin like a butterfly's wing ; they 
are also found in India, the Pacific, and Australia. 

Mastacembelus armatus is a long narrow brown fish, some- 
times attaining a length of two feet, with a very small head and 
a pointed snout, slightly tinned up, the caudal fins and tail are 
united. They are found in Nepal and many parts of the 
East, descending into the mud in the dry season, and their 
peculiar snout is supposed to enable them to search for food 
in it. Some of them were brought to Eiu-ope from Aleppo by 
Alex. Eussell in the middle of the last century.^ The 
liynchobdella Aral in some respects resembles the Mastacem- 
belus, having the same shaped head with a snout, but it is 
turned downwards, the body is also much shorter and thicker, 
having less of an eel-like form, and the caudal fins and tail 
are separated. Cuvier's description was taken from one 
obtained by Laurent Gronovius from Ceylon, and there is 
reason to suppose it is only a variety of Mastacembelus, called 
Theliya by the natives. 

Chromedes are a genus of fish with deep flat bodies, very 
numerous in the tropical parts of America and AMca on the 
western coast, and some are found in the pools of the Sahara, 
but only one species has been noticed in Western India, 
Etroplus Surattensis, Cuv., of a greenish colour with white bands, 
also found in Ceylon, where it is named " rallia," as well as 
another variety, E. maculatus, Gimth., called " corallia " by 
the natives. 

SiLURiD^. — Some sheat fish resemble eels with barbels, and 
are very numerous in tropical fresh waters. Saccobranchis 
microps and S, microcephaltis, are two remarkable species 

» Gunther. * Nat. Hist. Aleppo, 1756. 

FISH. 263 

found in Ceylon, the upper part of the body is brownish or 
slate colour, and the abdomen pinkish ; the eyes are exceed- 
ingly small, and there are several barbels growing about the 
nose. Many varieties of Arius so numerous in Indian rivers 
appear to be wanting in Ceylon, but two remarkable species 
called " angaluwa" by the Sinhalese, A. Boakii and A . Layardii, 
identical with A, JissiLS of South America, have recently been 
ttscovered at Caltura by the Rev. Mr. Boake, who sent some 
hoaie and were described by W. Turner in the " Eeportg of the 
British Association " for 1866,^ and are of great interest to 
natunlists, being the only instance known of fish in the old 
world vho carry their ova in their mouths. 

Some years since Dr. Gunther's attention was attracted to 
the distended appearance of the mouth of an Arius sent 
from Soufti America, and upon examination was surprised 
to find twenty eggs the size of a pea inside,* showing the 
existence of a genus of fish having ova of a large size, but 
few in nmnbo*, and carried by the male in its mouth until it 
arrives at ovarian maturity. 

The Sinhalese eat the eggs in curries and also fiy them. 
The fish ire about fourteen inches long, and when held up by 
the tail, tie eggs, usually twelve in number and the size of a 
small bulbt, drop out. 

Cyprind^. — This extensive family comprising carp, roach, 
tench, gucgeon, bream, dace, chub, and barbels, have many re- 
presentatires in Ceylon, the most numerous being barbels, but 
several of the Cyprinidce found in Indian rivers have not been 
noticed inthe island.^ The barbels attached to the mouths of 
most of ths family is an organ having a very delicate sense of 
touch and leing usually found in fish who feed near or in mud, 
is supposec to assist them in obtaining food.^ Among the 
gudgeon is the Crossochillus reba of H. Buchanan,* about 
eleven inchs long, very numei'ous in the rivers of Western 
India, Afric; and Java. And there is a sucking-carp (Garra 

* Jso in Cey. J. R. A. S., 1865. 

^ -nu. Nat. Hist., xviiL 473 ; Gunther, Fishes, v. 173. 
' JA. S. Bciig., 1839, p. 671. 

* Crrhina Duisumurii, Cuv. 


Ceylonicus). The upper lip being modified into a suctorial 
disc. It is a scaly fish having from two to four barbels. A 
grey sucking carp is found in the fur country of North 

Mr. Yarrell gives several instances of the power possessed 
by fish, particularly Cyprhiidce of enduring the extremes of 
heat and cold ; the gold-fish, C. aurca and the sucldng-earp 
have been frozen in a lump of ice without killing them, and 
Humboldt and Bonpland state, what seems hardly credible, 
that in South America they perceived fish thrown up alive frjm 
a volcano along with water liaring a temperature within 9 few 
degrees of the boiling point. Several Cyprinidce were xbund 
by M. Reynaud in the warm springs of Kannea nea» Trin- 
comalee, where the temperature varies from 85° to 115*^ Fahren- 
heit, including a kind of roach or dace {Leuciscns liermalis) 
about two inches long, an exceedingly small loaci (Cobites 
thcrmalis) little more than an inch long, marked ^th brown 
spots, and a barbel with four filaments (Nuria tlKrmalis) also 
inhabiting the wann springs of India and Assam. Two little 
perch were also found by M. Rej^naud at Kaimea (Apogon 
thcrmalis) about three inches long, of a red colour wih black 
spots, similar to the Apogon of tlie Red Sea, and the imbassin 
thcrmalis, Cuv., of a green colour with a silver band,recently 
found in the fresh waters of the Mozambique Channel 

Nemachilus uropthalmus is a curious little tawny fisl* marked 
like a tiger, also found in India and Java, a variety inhabits 
the lake of Galilea and another the Tigris. 

Showers of fish. — The phenomenon of small fish faHng from 
the clouds during heavy rains and thunder storms,, is more 
frequent in India than Ceylon, where it is rare, i is con- 
jectured that they are drawn up from the sea by waer spouts, 
but in India live fresh water species are said to aave been 
picked up alive after storms of rain. Querj^ wee they not 
migratory fish ? Dr. Buist in an article in the "Bombay 
Times," 1856 ^ mentions many instances of tliis kid. In Juh- 
1826, a number of Cyprinus were found at Moradbad during 
a storm. A fall of large fish occurred at Nokuljitty in Feb. 

* Kiclmrdsoii, Fnuim l>ui enlis. - Quoted by Sir E. 'enncnt. 

FISH. 265 

1830, but in this instance they were all dead and many in a 
putnd state. Tn 1852 numbers fell at Poonah more than half 
a mile from any water. According to the Journal of the 
Asiatic Society of Bengal, a shower of Clupea occurred on the 
Jumna, May 16, 1834 ; and fish were found in the pluviometer 
at Benares in 1833, some quite fresh and others without heads.^ 

Quatremere in his Memoire sur TEgjrpte says, "Arabian 
authors relate that a shower of serpents occurred at Schezer, 
a town of Syria, in year 775 of the Hegira, and the same thing 
happened at Zeila in Abyssinia when many people died from 
their bites. There was a shower of green frogs in the year 
833 of the Hegira which covered the houses and streets of 
Hermes. Showers of rats, fish, and frogs are also stated to 
have happened by several ancient authors quoted by him. 

Dr. Livingstone mentions that the natives say, showers of 
frogs fall from the clouds in South Africa. It is conjectured 
in these instances that the frogs do not actually fall from the 
sky, being merely brought forth in unusual number by the rain 
from some place, and spread themselves over the neighbour- 
hood, but if fresh water fish can be drawn up by whirlwinds or 
storms from rivers and tanks, why not frogs also. 

Fish traps. — The Sinhalese have several ingenious ways of 
catching fish in weirs and staked enclosures formed on the 
principle of the eel traps used in England, and also intoxicate 
fish with various poisonous drugs which, as afready mentioned, 
renders them dangerous as food. 

M. A. S. B., 1888, p. 65e, 1884, p. 866. 

List op Ceylok Fish. 

Taken from Cuvier, and G&nther*8 Catalogue of Fish. 

t Not in Tennent, many of which are new. 

Serranns faveatns. Out, iL 829. 
bontoo, Cuv. ii. 384. 
Sonnerati, Cuv, iL 299. 
marginalia, Cuv, 
flaYO-coeralens, Cuv, 
angnlaria, Cuv. 
lemnescatus, Cuv. iL 240. 


Holocentrum ruber, Benn, 

diadem, Cuv. iii. 213. 
Serranns biguttatis, Cuv, vi. 

pachycentrum, Cuv, 


punctnlatos, Cuv, ii. 867. 



Serraniu amboinensis, Cmv. 
Diaoope marginata, Cuv, 

spilura, Benn, 
Apogon Zeylonicus, Cuv, uL 491. 

thermalis, Cuv, 
Ambassis thermalis, Cuv. iL 
Diacope zanthopes, Cuv. iii. 495. 
Perca argentea, Bcnn, 
Dnles thermalis, Cuv. iii. 402. 

Tosipenis, Cuv. iii. 490. 
Therapon trivittatus, Bv4^,. 
Diagranuna panctatmn, Cuv, v. 303. 

limatom, Cuv, 

pacilopterum, Cuv, 

blochii, Cuv. v. 309. 

orientale, Cuv. y. 299. 
Lobotes crate, Cuv. y, 323. 
Genes oblongns, Cuv. vi. 479. 
Mesoprion rangns, Cuv. ii. 481. 

anularis, Cuv, 

aurolineatuR, Cuv. 
Scolopifl japonicus, Cuv. v. 

binnaculatus, Cuv. y. 340. 
Dentiz furcosus, Cuv. vi. 
Smaris balteatas, Cuv. vi. 424. 
Csesis ccerulanns, Lacep. 
TJpenens vittatns, Cuv. (mulliia or 
muUoides, Lacep.) 

tsenioptcrua, Cuv. 

bifasciatoB, Cuv. 

Zeylonicos, Cuv. 

cinnabarinuB, Cuv. iii. 475. 
Lethrinus ramak, Forsi, 

erythrurus, Cuv. vi 293. 

opercularis, Cuv, 




rostratus, Cuv. 
Pogros longifiles, Cuv. vi. 159. 
Meroa boelang, Cuv. vi. 
Apselus fuscas, Cuv. vi. 549. 
fSparodon heterodon, Bleek, 
Chrysophrys hasta, Cuv, 
Chffitodon Layardii, Blj/th, 

pictus, Cuv, vii. 

vagabondus, Benn.^ Cuv. viii. 50. 



artroroaculatus, Benn. 

Hcniochus macrolepidotna. 

Holocanthns annularos, Cuv^ viL 

xanthurus, Benn. 

imperator, Block, 
£l)hippus orbus, Cuv. 

Scorpsena polyprion, Cuv. 
Ptcrois volitans, Cuv. 

muricata, Cuv, iv. 363. 
Tetraroge longispinis. 

Platycephalos ponctatus. Cur, ir. 
seiratus, Cuv. 

tubercolatus, Cuv, iv. 258. 
Sillago punctata, Cuv, 

erythrea, Cuv. 
Corvina miles, Cuv. v. 94. 

plagiostoma, Bleek. 
Otolithus argcnteus, Cuv. 
Polynemus tetradactylus, Cuw. 
Scomber thynnus, Cuv. 
Thyimus pelamys, Cuv, 
Cybum guttatum, Cuv. viii. 173. 
Naucrates ductor, Cuv. viiL 324. 
f Echinis scuta, Gun. 
Coryphaena bippurus, Linn, 
Caranx talamparoides, Bl, Schn. 
fallax, Cuv. ix. 95. 
heberi, Benn. 
speciosus, Cuv, 
tChorinemus moadatta, Cuv, viiL 
Trachynotus ovatus, Cuv. 
Psettus rhombeus, Cuv, vii. 
Plantax vespertilio, Cuv. 

raynaldi, Cuv. viL 219. 
JEquula filigeni, Cuv. x. 92. 

dacer, Cuv. 
Gazza minuta, Bl. Schn, 
f Xipbias gladius, Linn. 
Histiopborus inimaculatus, Cuv. viiL 
f Gobius pavoninoides, BL Schn, 
oligolepus, Bl. Schn. 
giuris, //. Buchan, 
fphaopilosoma, Blf.ek. 
f cyanomos, Bleek. 
fbonti, Blee, 
fl)haiomelas, Bleek, 
ftentacularis, Cuv, 



fGobus roicrolepis, Bleek. 

grammepomoA, BUek. 
Apocryptes mAdarensis, BUek, 
Feriophthalmus koelreuteri, Cuv, ziL 

papilio, Cur. xii. 190. 
Eleotris nigra, Cuv. xii. 283. 

sexgutta, Cuv. 
Antennarius marmoratos. 
Salarias marmoratus, Cuv. xi. 305. 

quadricomis, Cuv. xi. 329. 
falticos, Cuv. xi. 839. 
Teuthis javus, Cuv. x. 118. 

nuchalis, Cuv. 

nebulosa, Cuv. x. 
Acanthurus triostcgus, Cuv, 

nigrofuscus, Cuv. x. 214. 

lineatus, Cuv. x. 223. 

Tennentii, Oun, 

delisianus, Cuv. 

ctanodon, Cuv. 

xanthuros, Blyth. 

melas, Cuv. x. 241. 
Naseus unicornus, Cuv. x. 259. 

brevirostris, Cuv. x. 278. 

tuberosus, Cuv. x. 290. 
fAnabis scandens, Cuv. vii. 

oligolepis, Bleek. 
PoIyacanthuB signatns, Cuv. vii. 
Atherina duodecimalia, Cuv. x. 458. 
Mngil planicepa, Cuv. xL 122. 
fKelaartii, Oun. iii. 429. 

Ceylonenais, Oun, 
ftroschillii, BUek. 
Ophiocephalns Kelaartii, Oun, 

striatus, Cuv. yii. 417. 

maruliufl, Cuv. 
Channa orientalis, Bl. Schn, 

fcyprinoidea, Oun. 
Mastacembelus armatos, Cur. viii. 
"frhynchobtlella. Cur. 
Amphiprion Clarkii, Cuv. 
Dascyllus anianus, Cur. 
Glyphidodon coclestinus, Oitn. 

aeptemfasciatus, Cuv. r. 463. 

Brownnggi,C^v. (Cbatodoii,.fi0fiii.) 
tCbeilinus chlororus, Cuv. xiv. 
fSpams decusaatua, Benn. 
Julia Ceylonicna, Benn. 

maiginatuB, Cuv. xiii. 

Julia meniBCua, Cuv. 
purpureo liueatna. 
famhycephalua, Bleek. 
ftrilobata, Lacep, 
bimaculatus, Benn. 
dorsalis, Cuv. 
Fiulaysoui, Cuv. xiii. 471. 
gomphosos coBruleua, Cuv. xiv. (G. 

viridus, Benn.) 
ftricolor, Renard. 
fuscus, Benn. 
Coria formosa, Benn, 

clDgulum, Owv. 
Plostos lineatua, Cnv. xv. 118. 
fCallyodou carolinus, Cuv. xiv. 
Scams harid, Cuv. xiv. 
fEtroplus suratcnsis, Cuv. v. 486. 

maculatua, Oun., Ann. N.H.1866. 
fSolea vulgaris, 
cinerascens, Gun. 
fCIarias teysmanni, Bleek. 

fSaccobranchis microps, Chin, 
Callichrous Ceylonicns, Oun. 
fBagrus albilabris, Cuv, 

ftengara, Cuv, 
f Anus Dussumierii, Cuv, 
fBoakii, Gun. 
f Layardii, Oun, 
fBelone cancila, Cuv, zviii. 
fHemirhamphus limbatus, Cuv. xix. 
fdispar, Cur. 
Roynaldi, Cuv. 
Exocffitus evolans, Cuv. • 
fDussumierii, Cuv. ix. 138. 
fsolandri, Cuv, 
fmonto, Cuv. 
faltipennis, Cuv. 
f Rohita Dussumierii, Cuv. 
fCrossochillus reba, Ham., Buck. 
fGarra Ceylonicus, Bleek, 
fBarbus spilurns, Ounlh. 
flongispinia, Bleek, 
ftetraspilus, OunUi. 
f Layardi, Ounlh, 



fBarbus Cumengii. 
Leuciaciis dandia, Cuv, xviii. 
scalpellus, Cuw 
thermalis, Cuv. 
filamentosus, Cuv, 
f Rasbora daniconius, Ounth. 

Nuria thermalis, Cuv, 
f Leuciscus mclettinna, Cuv. 
fDanio miconema, Bleek, 
fElustira CeyloneDsis, Oun, 
f Nemachilus uropthalmus. 
fnostostigma, Bleek. 
Cobites thermalis, Cuv, xviii. 78. 
Cbirocentrcs dorab, Cuv. xix. 150. 
Engraulis Brownii, Cuv. xzi. 

faceata, Cuv. 
Elops Baurus, Cuv. xix. 365. 
Sardinella lineolata, Cuv. xx. 272. 
leiogaster, Cuv. 
Malabarica, BUkL 
Neohowii, Cuv. 
Chanos salmoneos, Cuv. 
Saurus myops, Cuv. 
Albula conorhynchus, Cuv. 
Clupea moluccensis. 
Symbranchus marmoratus, Bl. Sehn. 
Ajigiiilla manritiaxiA, Benn., P. Z. S., 
bicolor, Bleel. 
Miir8emchth3rs yermifornis, Peters. 

Ophichtbys orientalis. Hum. 
Marsena macmnis, Bleek. 
Syngnathus Ceylonicos, Gun. Tiii. 

Balistes biaculeatos, Benn. 
f stellatns, Lacep. 
fniger, MungoPark. 
fviridus, Benn. 
•fOstracion cubicus. Block. 
Tetrodon sceleratus, Forst. 
ffluvialis, Ham.y Buck. 
ocellatus, Benn, 
fbispidus, La4:^. 

tCbarcbarodon rondelettL 
fMustelus manazo, Bleek. 
f Stegostoma tigrinum. 
fScyllium marmoratom, Benn. 
Chiloscyllium indicum. 
Pristis antiquonun, Lath. 

fzysron, Bleek. 
f Raja aspenima, Bl. Schn. 
Trigon polylepis, Bleek. 
Aetobatis naiinari, Cuv. Die. Nat. 
xxxiv. 19, also Riga narinari. 

In addition to thofio enumerated 
here, a number more are entered in Sir 
E. Tennent's list on the authoritj of 
Dr. Gunther, who, he says, made it for 
him ; but they cannot be traced in 
Gunther's work as Ceylon species under 
the names given. 



A GREAT variety of Crustacea^ described by Milne-Edwards, 
frequent Indian seas (Vide list), but few of them have been 
identified as Ceylon species, although most of them are pro- 
bably found round its shores, where shell-fish are very numer- 
ous. A variety of painted crab (Orapsus strigosus), is a small 
species found about rocks, washed by the surf, which they 
climb with great facility, and are named from the rich red and 
yellow markings on their shells. Swimming-crabs (Neptunus 
pelagitus) swim as well as crawl, their hind legs being flattened 
like an oar, and have very small claws, shaped like cray-fish; 
they are common both to Ceylon and India, and live on live 

A remarkable little crab, of the genus GebasimuSy^ with only 
one claw, which is larger than its body, is named the '' beckon- 
ing crab," from the circumstance of its raising the claw with a 
fancied beckoning gesture towards persons who go near or 
pursue them, but it does so in order to run. It is very active, 
and burrows in the sandy shore of the Galle face Colombo, 
and other similar places round the coast, where they are very 
common, nmning along the wet sand close to the surf picking 
up garbage thrown on the beach. 

There are several varieties of true hermit crabs {Pagurus)^ 
exceedingly small species, who dwell in the deserted shells of 
moUusca lying along the shore. Another dweller in empty 
shells is the pea-crab (Pontonia injlata),^ a variety of the 
Mediterranean (Pinnotheres veterum), whose habit of living in 

» Milne-Edwards, N. H. Cruat., ii. 62. » Idem, ii 360. 


the shell of the pinna attracted the attention of Aristotle and 
Pliny. Pea- crabs are exceedingly small, only half an inch in 
diameter, of a round shape, and light red colour, and are said 
to be very delicate. They are found in England ^ living in 
mussel shells. 

The ocypode, or sand-crab, is a small buflf-coloured species 
that burrows in dry sandy places some distance inland along 
the coast, they are very active and run with gi'eat rapidity. 
In the West Indies they attain a considerable size. (Vide 
vol. i., p. 377.) 

A variety of the common spiny lobster {Palinurus), of 
great size, variegated with white, is abundant in the markets. 
There is also a species of lobster named Scyllarus, dis- 
tinguished b}^ its flattened form and absence of antennae, while 
those of the spiny lobster are veiy long. Prawns {PdUtinon 
seriatus) are abundant and of large size, forming one of the 
luxuries of Ceylon. 

MoLLUscA. — Ceylon is exceedingly rich in shells, both 
marine and land species, and although many descriptions have 
been given in various periodicals, nothing has yet beeh done 
towards a systematic account of them. ** It is said that many 
of the shells described by Linnaeus came from the island, of 
which the great naturalist was unaware. The traffic in marine 
species has long been in the hands of the Moors, who purchase 
from the natives all the valuable ones they find and export 
them to otiier countries." * 

Chank shell {Turhinella rajna), used in India for making 
rings and bangles for native women, are of two kinds, one 
being called Patti and the other Paj 11 ; they are cream coloured 
inside and a muddy browTi outside, and only found in the north 
about Manaar and Jaffiia. A writer in the " Asiatic Journal " 
for 1827, points out a curious circumstance regarding them : 
'* All the shells found by fishermen to the north of a line 
drawn from a point about midway from Manaar to India are 
called Patti, distinguished by a flat, short head ; while all 
those found to the south of it are of the sort called Pajil, 
having long and pointed heads." The valves of both species 

* Bell, Brit. Cms., p. 123. » Teiment, N. H. Cey. 


usually open to the left, but occasionally one is found opening 
to the right, to which an extravagant value has been attached, 
being sold for its weight in gold. Formerly the chank 
fishery in the sea between Manaar and Jaflfna was a valuable 
Government monopoly, and nursery for pearl-divers, producing 
60,000 dollars (£4,000) per annum, but for some reason not 
explained fell off considerably. The chank shells are seen 
moving at the bottom in about two fathoms of water, when the 
divers plunge after them and bring them up. 

The chief supply for many years has been the immense 
deposit of dead shells discovered in 1821 in the lake and tidal 
flats of Jaffna, embedded in a stratum of blue mud covered 
by two feet of water, from whence they were dug out. The 
deposits in the tidal flats have been exhausted, but they are 
now obtained in the lake by people wading into it up to the 
neck, using an iron probe like a boat-hook, having a cross 
handle at the top, with which they manage to hook and draw 
them up. A license of one-tenth was imposed by Government 
for the permission, averaging £250 per annum, the value of 
shells being j£2,500. About 2,000,000 of chanks were obtained 
annually up to 18G3 without exhausting the supply. In 1862 
the royalty was raised to one-fifth, with a proportionate in- 
crease to the revenue. ^ 

An oyster, with a semi-transparent shell (Placuna placenta), 
which only lives in brackish water and produces a small seed 
pearl, is found in the bay of Tamblegam, near Trincomalee, in 
great numbers, half buried in the mud. The pearls are of 
little value, but the shells are worth ten shillings per thousand, 
and are exported to China, where they are used as a substitute 
for glass in windows. They are very flat and about six inches 
wide. The fishery is rented by Government to speculators 
for a small sum. 18,000,000 of fish are said to have been 
taken in three years. ^ 

Edible oysters {Ostroea edidis) are found in several places 
round the coast, those obtained at Bentotte are the most 
esteemed. Some are found near Trincomalee of an immense 

* Report from the Governor, 1864, vol. xxxvii. ; Bertolacci, Ceylon, p. 233. 
' Eelaart, Report on ;he Pearl Fishery. 


size, measuring upwards of seven or eight inches across, and 
are anything but inviting. Pliny mentions the large oysters 
found in Indian seas. 

A very pretty violet Janthina floats in calm weather on the 
sea, its inflated membranes answering the double purpose of a 
sail and a buoy. 

Nudibraiichiate mollusca. — Dr. Kelaart, in the Annals Nat. 
Hist., 1858 — 1859, describes some splendid specimens of these 
sea animals found on sea- weed and also swimming in the sea 
about Aripo and other places. There are several genera of 
them, Pteropoda EolicUe, Tritonce, and Doris, or sea nymph ; 
they have semi-transparent gelatinous bodies of various shapes, 
resembling leaves with branches on their sides and backs; 
Pteropoda have wings resembling butterflies, and are all richly 
coloured. Doris gloriosa, Kela.,^ is a fine specimen of sea- 
nymph, three inches long, of a rich pink, minutely dotted 
with red and white. 

Teredo navcdis is a species of mollusc very destructive to the 
timbers of vessels in Indian seas, boring holes in them, which 
are partly lined with shell ; they have recently attacked the 
electric cable in the Persian Gulf. They are a greyish grub- 
like animal, with a curious forked tail, which enables them to 
swim, and a homy crescent- shaped mouth. 

Land Shells, — Numbers of AmpuUaria, Paludina, and Unio 
marginalise are found about the northern tanks, furnishing 
food for storks and other birds. In the southern provinces 
especially, trees in some places are covered with varied species 
of snails in such abundance that the trunks are hid by them. 
Few are to be seen in the dry season, particularly in March, 
when they sestivate in various retreats, some in holes under 
roots of trees, two or three inches below the surface, others in 
the mud of tanks, until the monsoon brings them forth again. 
There is no doubt that tropical snails, at least, have the power 
of suspending vitality for a very long period ; a curious 
instance is given in the Annals Nat. Hist. 1850, of a snail 
(Helix macularia), brought from Egypt to England, which 
remained in this state for four years. 

1 D. marginata, Leukart ' Layard, Ann. Nat. Hist, 1853, p. 225. 


The trunks of mango trees about Galle are covered with 
richly coloured Helix lueinastoma, with a red peristome and 
<;hestnut and milk-white bands, their fine colours are often 
obscured by a thick green coating of vegetable substance, 
probably to hide them from birds. Among other species found 
about Galle is a very pretty and distinct Cyclostoma halophiluvi, 
along with the commonlndianBulimus gracilis. B.Zeylon'icai^ 
a green mollusc which comes out of its shell, found on the 
coffee plant eating the leaves. B, Indica is a yellow variety, 
another Bulimus is very common on the walls of the fort of 
Colombo and Jaflftia. 

Many fresh w^ater and land shells have within recent years 
been found in the mountains of Ceylon, similar to those of the 
Himalaya, Nilgherries, and Western India. Helix Huttoiii, 
Pffr., of the Himalaya, reappears in the vicinity of Fort Mac- 
Donald, 4,500 feet above the sea. Clamilia Ceylo7iica, found 
in the same place, is allied to the Daijeeling C, los ; this is the 
first species of the genus that has been found in Ceylon, none 
are said as yet to have been observed in Southern or Central 
India. The gigantic Helix hasileus, three inches in diameter, 
is related to the Ceylon group {H. chenui, Pffr.), also allied to 
Nilgherry forms. Tanalia stomatodon has been found at 
Travancore, South India, the first of the species observed out 
of Ceylon. Other South India fresh water shells, such as 
Bithinia travancoria, from Quillon, have been found near 
BaduUa ; and the Achatina land group of Daijeeling are the 
same type as those of Ceylon, the Mahabaleshwar hills, and 
Nilgherries.^ In some forms Ceylon has a generic area of its 
own, especially among Cyclostoma, and the Aulopoma are 
peculiar to the island.^ 

Radiata. — Some very large species of Ophiurida, with arms 
a foot long, and of a dai'k purple colour, are to be found at 
Trincomalee. Star-fish, with rigid rays {Asterias, Linn.), and 
other species, are numerous on the eastern shores. 

Planaria, — Fifteen species of Miiller's Planaria, or flat 
worms, were described by Dr. Kelaart in the Ceylon J. R. A. S., 
1856. Some are found on the bark of trees after rain, also 

^ Benson, Ann. Nat. Hist, 1860, 1862. ' J. A. & Bcng., 1860, 121. 



in fresh water ; they are classed by some naturalists among 
Annelida. A few of the genera are marine species. 

HoLOTHURiDiE. — Drummond's Cucumaria, or Biche de Mar 
of the French, and trepang of the Malays, is a kind of sea- 
slug, an almost inanimate creature, with a cylindrical form, 
and a flaccid, leathery skin, full of water, which it voids when 
taken out of the sea. 

Great quantities of them are found near the shore about 
Manaar and the north west coast, and when boiled and dried 
in the sun forms the Chinese luxur}' called Hoy-shew, from 
which they make a thick and rich soup. It is largely prepared 
in the island for export to China, they also obtain it from 
Malay, and is said to be worth from £1 to £3 per cwt., accord- 
ing to quality. 

AcALEPHA. — Jelly-fish are numerous, especially about the 
north west coast. The Phy sails pelagicus, or Portuguese man- 
of'War, as it is commonly called, is the most charming of the 
Acalepha ; they are only found in tropical seas floating on the 
surface during calm weather. It is not so harmless as it looks, 
the tentacles sting like a nettle, causing a redness and bUster- 
ing of the skin, and a dull pain up the arm of any person who 
incautiously takes hold of it. One of the first persons who 
has described this animal was Thomas Stevens {Vide ch. xiv.), 
and very accurately. He says : " We often saw a thing swim- 
ming on the water like a cock's comb, which they call a ship 
of Guinea, but the colour is fairer, which standeth upon a 
thing like the swimmer of a fish, and beareth underneath in 
the water strings which save it from timiing over ; this thing 
is a poison, and a man cannot touch it without great peril." 

Zoophytes. — Small fragments of red coral, similar to that of 
the Mediterranean, have been noticed at the water's edge on 
some parts of the southern shore between Galle and Colombo, 
and appears to have been known to the Portuguese, as RibejTo 
mentions it ; ^ Horsburgh also says there are beds of red coral 
in seven fathoms of water near Point Pedro. A tulip-shaped 
sponge, of a bright orange colom', is found adhering to pearl 
oyster shells at Aripo. 

* Tennent. 



Infusoria. — ^Parts of the sea oflf Colombo during the mon- 
soons assume a red tinge, caused by a species of infusoria ; a 
similar appearance has been noticed at Bombay, which a writer 
in the Ann. Nat. Hist., 1858, says is caused by a red animal- 
cula named Peridium ; in its early stages of existence it is a 
green colour, containing a substance identical with chlophyll 
of plants, ultimately an oil appears in them, when the green 
hue disappears, and red takes its place, which lasts only a few 

LifiT 07 Cbubtacea. 

Eurypodius Latriellia. 
Egeria indica, Ltach. 

Doclea ovis, Herhst. 

muricata, Herbat, 

hybridfe, Fab, 
Paramithrax PcroniL 
Halimus anritas, Latre. 
Lambros carenatus. 
Thalamita admete, Herhst, 
NeptuDUs pelagicus, Linn, 

sangoinolentus, Herhst, 
Sesanna tetragona. Fab. 
Cyclograspos punctatus. 
Ocypoda Lsevis, Fdb, 

ceratophthalmus, Pail. 

macrocera, Edw, 

Gelasimus anDulipes, Loire, 
Macrophthalmxis incisus, Rump. 

Graspus mcssor, Forsk. 

atrigosus, Herhst, 
Plagusia depressa, Fab. 

squamosa, Herhst. 
Calappa lophos. 

fomicata, Mump, 
Varune litterata, Fab. 
Leucosia craniolarns, Linn, 
Arcanie crinaceus, Herhtt, 
Philyra scabrioscola, Fab. 

porcellans, Fab. 

Dorippe qtiadridentata, Fah. 

sima. Fab. 

camard, Fab, 
Droma caput mortuum, Laire. 

Rumphii, Rump, 
Soyllarus orientalis, Fab, 
Palinurufl sulcatus. 



omatua, Fab. 
Ranina dentata, Rump, 
PagoruB affinis, Edw. 

punctulatus, Oliv, 

miles, Fab. 

custos, Fab. 
Alpheus Tamulus, Fab, 
Pakemon carcinus, Fcib, 
Pontonia inflata, Edw, 
Stenoi)us hispidus, Seba, 
Penaeus indicus, Fab. 

monodon, Fab, 

brevicornis, Fab. 
Squilla scorpion, Loire. 

microphtholma, Fab. 
€k>nodactylus chiragra. Fab. 
Gamaris scyllarus, Rump. 
Penaus crassicomis. Fab. 
Phyllosome communis, Leaeh. 

Indica, Fab. 

laticomis. Fab. 

Reynaudii, Reyn. 

T S 




The following families and 

genera of shells are found in Ceylon ; a more detailed 

list would be beyond the 

scope of this work ; many have more than one nameu 



















































































































































Pearls have at all times been considered one of the most 
Taluable commodities of the East, forming an indispensable 
part of the decoration of Hindu princes. The necklace taken 
from the Eaja Jaipat, \^hen he was captm*ed by Mahmud, in 
the year a.d. 1001, was valued at £100,000. A string of 
pearls ornamented the neck of Tippoo Sahib when he fell at 
the storming of Seringapatam, and Marco Polo speaks of the 
pearl collar worn by the King of Mabar. Twenty-two and a 
half centuries before our era they are said to have been named 
as a tribute in China, and are mentioned at a later period 
in the ** Rh-ya," the most ancient of dictionaries. The Em- 
peror Wuh, B.C. 140 years, sent envoys to India to obtain 
them, and Chinese books speak of one from Ceylon of great 

It is remarkable that so prized an ornament should be 
rarely, if ever, mentioned in the Talmud, which so often 
alludes to other gems worn by mankind. According to Dr. 
Kitto's "Bible Cyclopedia," the word "gabish," (rendered 
pearl in Job xxviii. 18), means crystal ; they are, however, re- 
peatedly mentioned in the New Testament. Pearls were valued 
at Rome and Alexandria as highly as precious stones. Pliny 
is eloquent about the luxury of pearl-wearing among Roman 
women, " who had numbers of them dangling from their ears 
and fingers, and their sandals were embroidered with them ; a 
pearl worn by a woman in the public streets was as good as 
having a lictor walking before them, it inspired such awe from 
the populace," (ix. 56). The wife of A. Caius had £304,000 

> J. R. A. Soc., xTi. 280. 


worth of pearls and emeralds; Servilia,^ the mother of Brutus, 
received from Caesar a pearl worth £50,000, and Cleopatra's 
ear-rings were valued at £161,000, one of which she drank 
after dissolving it in a cup of vinegar at a banquet, to win a 
bet from Marc Antony.^ This exploit is considered by some 
to have been nearly impossible, if not dangerous, as it would 
require a very stronc^ acid to dissolve a pearl. Others sug- 
gest she may have used some acid whose nature is un- 
known to us, or, perhaps, she broke and pounded the pearl 
to powder previous to dissolving it in the vinegar, afterwards 
diluted with water, in order that she might drink it.^ 

Pausanias and Vitruvius both remark that pearls could be 
dissolved in vinegar, and drinking dissolved pearls was not 
uncommon in Rome during the Empire, being practised by 
Caligula, and the dissipated Clodius is said to have given 
each of his guests a pearl dissolved in vinegar. Electuaries 
made of seed pearls, occasionally mixed with small precious 
stones pounded into powder, are used in India and Ceylon at 
the present time, being highly valued on account of their 
supposed stimulating properties, but this must be imaginary; 
pearls are composed of 87 per cent, of carbonate of lime and 
eleven of organic matter, and can be of little value as a 
medicine. Seed pearls are also made into the lime used by rich 
natives for chewing with their betel. Pounding pearls {perle 
da pestare) are mentioned by Pigolotti as being, sold at Con- 
stantinople in the fourteenth century, evidently to be used in 
medicine, and Mattioli quotes from Avicenna, G. Da Uzzano, 
and others, that pearls are good in palpitations and watery 

The largest pearls that have ever been found came from 
St. Margarita, in the West Indies, and the island of Tylos near 
Bahreen, in the Persian Gulf, a renowned and important 
fishery existing from a period anterior to the time of Alex- 
ander the Great, being mentioned by Nearchus (b.c. 820). 
The Sheik of Bushire, to whom it belongs at present, is said 
to derive a revenue of more than ^£200,000 from it. Accord- 

' RoUin, iiL 91. ' Macrobius, Saut., 1. iii. czrii. 17. 

» Beckman, Hist of Inv., ii 1. < Cathay, ii. 805. 


ing to Tavemier, the most perfect pearl ever discovered 
was bought, in 1638, by the Shah of Persia for the sum of 
1,400,000 French livres from an Arab, who brought it from 
Catifa, a fishery opposite to Bahreen. He also speaks of 
another Bahreen pearl belonging to the Prince of Muscat : it 
was twelve carats in weight, nearly round, and so bright and 
transparent one could almost see through it : he oflfered 40,000 
crowns for tliis unique gem but was refused.^ Pigafetta (1519) 
says, the king of Borneo had two pearls the size of pullet's 
eggs, so perfectly round they would roll oflf a table. 

Ceylon *pearls ai'e said to be whiter than the Persian, but 
more irregular in shape and generally considered inferior, 
rai'ely attaining a very large size. Le Beck mentions that the 
largest pearl taken at the fishery of 1797 was the size of a 
pistol-bullet. Ralph Fitch says, the Ceylon pearls were not 
so round as those of Bahreen, which were the finest in the 

Besides the fisheries named, there is one at Tutocorin, be- 
longing to the Indian Government, at the Soolu islands near 
Singhapur, and on the coast of Algers. The true peaii oyster 
is not the only shell-fish that produces peai*ls, being occasionally 
found in vaiious other species. According to Pliny (ix. 57) 
and ^lian (xv. 18) pearls were obtained by the Bomans from 
Britain 2000 years since. The English pearl is a species of 
mussel {Unio margaritifera), they are seldom sought for now 
in England, but occasionally a fine one has been found. One 
that was obtained from Conway, in Wales, holds a place in 
the Crown of England.^ The Chinese obtain pearls from a 
species of horse-mussel {Dipsas plicatits), also called the Mytilus 
cygniiSf or swan-mussel. They are also found in the sea-hare 
(Alphius), and in the common oyster {Ostroea edulis). Dr. 
Karl Mobus of Hamburg (1857) mentions that a citizen of that 
town narrowly escaped swallowing one valued at £8. Brown 
pearls are found in the Pinna nobilis, green and rose-coloured 
in the Spondylus gaderopus; violet in the Area Nofe^ and purple 
in the Anemia cepa. 

The earliest mention of the pearl fishery of Ceylon is found 

^ Tray., u. 824. > Forbes and Handloy, Brit. MolL, iL 147. 


in the " Rajavali " chronicle (b.c. 306), being at that time 
near Colombo, and destroyed by an inundation of the sea. 
The Tutocorin fisher}^ on the Indian coast, opposite to Aripo, 
is noticed in the " Vishnu Ptirana." Pliny mentions the Cey- 
lon fisheiy, sajdng, ** The Indians seek for pearls in the island 
of Taprobane, which is the most productive of them ; also at 
Perimula, a promontory of India, but those of the Persian 
Gulf are the most valued" (ix. 64). ^lian (xv. 8) repeats 
his remarks, only he says the Indian pearls were the best. 
Perimula has been placed by sopoie geographers in Malay, but 
Pliny evidently referred to the Tutocorin fisher}\ -.Elian calls 
it an Indian city. There is a place now called Palamutha 
near Cape Comorin. 

Pliny mentions that tlie word " Margarita " was of Indian 
origin : it is probably derived from the Sanscrit Margata, 
meaning anything prized or sought after. In this language 
pearls are called " mutya," and *' manigana" many pearls — 
** mani " is also a general term for a gem. Including pearls. 
The Hindus call them " moti," and the Sinhalese "mutu." 

Marco Polo gives an account of diving for pearls in what he 
calls the Idngdom of Mabar, yet the position indicated seems 
to refer to Ceylon, he says, "first they go to a place called 
Bettelar, and tlien sixty miles into the gulf." Aripo has 
generally been the central point of the Ceylon fishery. By 
Bettelar he may have meant Batthalah, where Ibn Batuta 
landed. Sometimes the site has been as low down the coast as 
Chilaw : ^ during the Dutch period the best fisheries took 
place there. Sir E. Tennent says, " the Tamils call Chilaw 
* Salabham,* or the sea of gain " (i. 440). Stevens, in his 
** History of Persia," says Chilaw means a fishery (p. 402). 

Marco Polo says the persons j^ermitted to fish gave the 
king of Mabar, who owned the fishery in his time, the tenth 
part of the produce as a tribute, and one-twentieth pai't to the 
" Abraim," or enchanters of the fish, meaning the sharks ; but 
adds, " Their chai'ms hold good only for the day, as at night 
they dissolve the charm so that the fish can work mischief at 

^ Cordiner says there was a small fishery at Chilaw in 1803, which produced 
£15,000, ii. 73. 


their will." By " Abraim" Marco doubtless meant the Brah- 
mins, but they do not charm sharks now, although they may 
have done so in his time. The manner of diving was similar 
to that practised at present. He says, "after mid-May the 
fishery ends, but in other parts, 300 miles distant, they fish 
imtil September or October." The site of this distant fishery 
has not been ascertained. NewhoflF mentions, when he visited 
India (1612), that they fished in October at Tutocorin. 

Although some of the kings of Ceylon have styled themselves 
"Lord of the Pearl-fisher}'," they appear to have in reality never 
possessed any power over it, which may have been caused by 
the early conquest of Jaflfna, and the northern part by the 
Malabars. Several travellers mention the claim of Indian and 
foreign rulei"s to it. Ibn Batuta says, Aryia Shakarte, a 
piratical potentate ruling the north-western coast, claimed it 
when he was in Ceylon. The Portuguese paid a tribute, for 
permission to fish in peace, to the Naique of Madura ; and 
Padre Barretto mentions that " they were also obliged to guai'd 
it with a regiment of Christian Parawas from the hostility of 
tlie king of ^Kandy. The Naique of Madui'a had one day's 
fisliing each week as his tribute." ^ 

The Dutch were much annoyed by the Malabar chiefs, and 
tlie Nabob of Arcot, who refused to allow the divers to go to 
them unless they were subsidized, and many times abandoned 
the fishery on this account. Their troubles were chiefly caused 
fi-om having abandoned theii* old ally, the Raja of Marwar, 
when he was attacked by Mahomed- Ali-Chan, Nabob of the 
Carnatic, after which he was unable to help them.^ 

AVhen the British obtained possession of the island, the 
petty princes of Madura tried to enforce their claims on 
the government, and some of the Southern Indian Pagodas, 
along with that at Ramiseram, also demanded a tithe of the 
oysters taken, producing old grants on copper-plates where the 
privilege was inscribed. For some years this claim, which 
yielded them about ;£2,700 per annum, was allowed, but 
eventually withdrawn in 1889.'^ 

^ Relation, p. 248. ' Haafhcr, p. 362. 

^.Stewut, Mem. and Appcn. ; Lee's Ribeyro. 


Bevenu£ derived from the fishery. — There are no records 
giving any account of what the Portuguese, or those who pre- 
ceded them, derived from pearls. According to some returns 
in the appendix to Lee's Ribeyro, the total Dutch revenue from 
the fishery during their occupation amounted to about d6200,000. 
Since the British domination it has averaged from ^£85,000 ix> 
£40,000. In 1797, an exceptional year, it produced £150,000, 
and in 1837, one of the worst, only £10,000. The total sum 
received from 1796 to 1837 amounted to £828,381, and from 
1857, when the fishing was resumed, to the present year, the 
sums received have been : — 

1857 £20,309 

1868 24,120 

1859 48,216 

1860 37,512 

1863 61,010 

1864 51,017 

The expense of maintaining a guard over the banks to pre- 
vent poaching was estimated some j^ears since at £850 per 
annum, wliich dm-ing the twenty years there was no fishery, 
was a loss to government of £17,000. During the S.W. 
monsoon, when the surf is high on the coast, the watch is per- 
formed on shore at Kudremalee, and at other times of the year 
by a vessel in the offing. It was first established in 1811. 

The various banks of rocks and coral ridges along the coast 
where the fish usually resort are examined about November 
of each year, and samples sent to Colombo to enable the 
government to decide if there should be a fishery, in which 
case the permission is sold to speculators by public auction. 
Persons experienced in the busiiicss profess to be able to judge 
from the appearance of the shells and pearls found in them, 
what the fishery would be likely to yield. They are, however, 
sometimes deceived in their calculations, and lose heavily. In 
1804, a bad year, the government remitted one-third of the 
money to the renter. The purchaser of the fishery are 
generally Moors, Tamils, or Banian merchants. In 1857, 
owing to a combination among the Chettie speculators, the 
fisheiy only yielded £20,809, although an enormous quantity 


of oysters were landed, and the government threatened to 
close it.^ 

Natural history of the pearl-fish. — The Hindus, usually poeti- 
cal in their ideas, describe pearls as drops of dew from heaven, 
falling into the shells when the fish rise to the surface of the 
ocean. A similar notion appears to have been also entertained 
by the Greeks and Bomans. Pliny (ix. 64) says pearls were 
at first a liquid, and iElian that they were caused by lightning. 
Abu Zaid remarks, some authors maintain when it rains the shell- 
fish rise to the surface of the sea and, opening their mouths, 
receive the drops afterwards transformed into pearls, while 
others think they are engendered in the fish itself.^ Edrisi is 
very positive about their being produced by rain, and Benja- 
min of Tudella, the Jewish Babi who visited the Bahreen 
fishery in the twelfth century, varies it by sajdng they are 
formed from drops of April showers ; repeated by Newhoflf, a 
Dutchman in 1612, who states if the fish were taken and 
opened before June the pearls would be found soft and pliable 
like pitch ! 

Although some of the divers to the present day believe in 
this origin of the pearl, it is of course quite fabulous, the 
general opinion among naturalists being that they are morbid 
secretions stimulated originally by some foreign substance 
gaining admission into the shell — such as a grain of sand, an 
idea first suggested by Beamur in the beginning of the last 
century.' Pearls ai'e secreted by the fish in exactly the same 
manner as the nacre of the shell, and are in fact the same 
substance formed into a globular shape, disposed in concen- 
tric layers, giving that imique and peculiar transparency so 
highly prized. If a small pearl is cut in two it presents to 
view a series of layers like an onion, and there is often a foreign 
substance in the centre. 

Some naturalists say pearls are not the result of disease, 
but " simply independent natural concretions growing in the 
fish." In opposition to this theory, it may be stated that they 
are rarely found when the flesh of the fish presents a healthy 

* Report of Governor, xxi. 143. ' Voy. Arabes. 

' H^m. of the French Academy, 1712. 


appearance, or in a state to be eaten by tbe natives, who occa- 
sionally use them as food ; also, a large proportion of the fish 
do not contain any pearls at all. Dr. Kelaart has shown that 
they are often formed from ova of the fish itself, which escape 
through the coats of an over-grown ovaria, and, getting into 
the interstices of the mantle, become the nucleus of pearls 
— an origin that was suggested by Sir C. Home in the 
"Philosophical Transactions" for 1826. Von Hessling, of 
Leipzig, who published in 1859 an elaborate treatise on the 
subject, examined 40,000 Unio margaritifera of Bavarian 
waters, and some hundreds of oriental pearls opened with a 
chisel, and could find no trace of a parasite or foreign origin 
in them. Dr. Mobus, however, has arrived at an opposite 
conclusion ; in eight pearls from America which he examined, 
he fomid the remains of entozoa in the nucleus, tracing their 
origin to the eggs of parasitic animals, gaining admission inside 
the shell. He quotes a statement from Valentin that a 
Swedish major and a Livonian noble saw a small shell-fish 
crawl out of a pearl which a fisheiinan placed on a table before 
them. Buffon was of opinion they proceeded from a natural 
tendency to a superabundant secretion of nacre to provide 
against accidents to the shell. Minute boring Afmelid^e, we 
know, perforate them in all directions, these holes in the shells 
being filled up with the nacre. Whenever the shell is free 
from their attacks the nacre may find a vent in the formation 
of pearls. 

Su' Alexander Johnson more than seventy years ago sug- 
gested to the Home Government that a natm'alist should be 
sent to Ceylon to investigate into the habits of the pearl-fish 
firom which the colony derives so large a revenue, but nothing 
was done imtil about 1848, when tlie government of Ceylon, 
stimulated by the failure of the fishery during the ten previous 
years, obtained an aquaiium and microscopes from England, 
and appointed Dr. Kelaai*t as naturalist, who published the 
result of his observations in 1848, which shows that the habits 
of the pearl-fish difier Uttle from other Conchifera of the same 

One-third of the fish died from the force required to remove 


tliem from their native beds, being conveyed from Aripo to 
Colombo in wooden boxes frill of holes towed at the stem of a 
vessel;^ besides those in the aquarium he placed some in 
wooden boxes, finger-glasses, an old canoe, and an earthen 
vessel which they seemed to like best, and also established a 
colony of them at Trincomalee, from which the Doctor thought 
artificial beds might be planted in any part of the island, but 
it is very doubtful if they would answer. There is nothing to 
prevent the fish migrating of their own accord to other places 
on the coast besides the positions they habitually select, being 
probably influenced by their food ; and nothing seems to have 
come of the colony at Trincomalee. (See page 289.) 

The mollusc, known as the pearl-oyster, although it bears 
a resemblance to the edible oyster, being chiefly distinguished 
by a broad hinge, belongs more to the mussel tribe, particu- 
larly as it has, like the mussel, a byssus or cable by which it 
attaches itself to foreign bodies. Lamarck separated the pearl 
oyster which he named Melcagrina margaritifera from the old 
genus Avicula, of which there are several species in Ceylon, 
some producing valueless pearls of a dark colour. The true 
pearl-fish attains a much larger size in America and the Persian 
Gulf than in Ceylon, where the shells are rarely more than six 
or seven inches wide. 

On removing the animal from the shell the whole of the 
internal parts are found enveloped in a membrane or " mantle," 
along the edges of which at the opening are a double set of 
fringes formed of hairy tentacles or filaments which dovetail 
into each other, one set being in immediate contact with the 
shell. So excessively sensitive are they to the vicinity of a 
foreign body, that if a feather be pointed near an open shell it im- 
mediately closes, and they were observed when in the aquarium 
to close at the approach of the hand, or even the shadow of a 
person on the sides of the glass." Dr. Kelaart was of opinion 
they have no organs of sight, " the sensitiveness of the mem- 
brane taking their place," and may be a power analogous to 

^ Mr. North, in 1803, and Captain Stewart some years after, both tried unsuc- 
cessfully to convey live fish from Aripo to Colombo, J. R. A. S., ill. 454 ; 
Cordiuer, ii 44. 


that possessed by the wing of the bat. The investigations of 
naturalists have discovered supposed organs of sight in the 
scollop which may also exist in the pearl-fish. The edges of 
the mantle are found to be studded with a number of pearl- 
like points interspersed among the tentacles considered by 
M. Poli to be so many eyes, constituting a perfect " Argus ;" 
and the researches of M. Siebold have demonstrated the 
existence of another sense in moUusca, that of hearing situated 
^n the foot.^ Le Beck imagined two small blue spots which 
he discerned in the foot of the pearl-fish to be eyes. 

" Were it not for the sensitive fringe of the mantle, the soft 
part of the fish would soon become the prey of a host of car- 
nivorous creatures in the sea ; it also plays an important part 
in the secretion of the pearly nacre of the shell, for when it 
is injured this substance is not formed in such abundance, and 
the edges of the shell become jagged and lose their brilliancy ; 
also if the edges of the membrane become retracted and do 
not fit close to the shell, grains of sand or the larvae of insects 
gain admittance between them, becoming the nucleus of a pearl, 
being immediately covered with the pearly secretion which is 
always going on, augmented at the part where the foreign sub- 
stance lies/*^ 

The pearl-fish feeds on animalcules, minute shells called 
Foraminifera, and those algse or vegetable forms found growing 
on shells, so minute as to require the aid of a microscope to 
detect them ; and may be said to carry its food on its back. 

The foot is a long brown member coiled up when at rest, in 
a comer of the shell ; in structure it closely resembles the 
tongue of a quadruped, and when protmded from the shell 
enables the fish to move from one place to another by a snail- 
like motion, or form a byssus. " The foot of Conchifera is 
used for various and widely-different purposes ; in the cockle 
locomotion is accomplished by a spring, the foot being bent 
against a fii'm substance, when the recoil jerks the fish forwai'd. 
The Solen uses it to bury itself in the sand, and the Pholaa 
and Teredo excavate with it holes in solid rock and timber, 
where the}' pass their lives.'* The byssus is composed of a 

^ Jones, Ani. King., p. 542, ed. 1871. ' Eelaart. 


number of fine filaments, formed from a secreting gland in the 
underpart of tlie foot, being as it were spmi from the fish, as 
the threads of a web are formed by a spider. When the fish 
wishes to fix itself in any position it takes a fancy to — a rock, 
for instance, the foot is pushed forward and the point rested 
on the rock for a few minutes and then withdrawn, leaving a 
fine thread behind attached to the rock. This operation is re- 
peated until a sufficiently strong cable is formed ; in some 
large shells upwards of fifty such fibres have been found chiefly 
near the hinge of the shell. The fibres are at first quite white, 
but in a few days become of a green colour, and look like 

" The pearl-fish cannot detach the byssus from the rock to 
which it is fixed, but it has the power of casting off the other 
end attached to its own body, and, like a ship, slip its cable, 
in order to seek a more favourable place and form another 
byssus." In the aquarium they move about chiefly at night, 
and Dr. Kelaart says " they sometimes perform this operation 
twelve times in a month,'* being in early life to some extent a 
necessary part of their economy, as old oysters are not so 
active in foiming the byssus. In their native beds the byssus 
begins to break and they fall away from the rocks and die off, 
either from old age or some other cause after six^ or seven 
years, in which case the pearls in them are lost. Cordiner 
mentions that in 1804 a bed of large oysters was accidentally 
discovered, the greater part of them being dead.^ According to 
the native divers there are male and female pearl-fish, and 
they profess to be able to distinguish them by their shells — 
the large flat ones being males and the concave shells females, 
but Dr. Kelaart failed to detect any difference in them, and Le 
Beck came to the same conclusion. Like most Conchif era they 
appear to be monoecious, and in spawn from March to June. 
Their prolificness is extraordinarj- ; from calculations made 
with a micrometer the number of eggs in the ovaria of a fish 
five or six years old cannot be less than 12,000,000, natm'e 
having made ample provision against the species being exter- 
minated, either by the avarice of man or its natural enemies. 

^ Stewart, Mem. p. 7. ^ Vol. iL 46. 


The spawn at first floats in coagulated masses on the sea, 
the sport of wind and waves, until the shell forms, and it ac- 
quires sufficient weight to sink to the bottom,^ but it has been 
found attached to a wooden buoy which was covered with young 
fish the size of a sliilling. The fact of the spawn floating on 
the sea did not escape the observation of Abu Zaid, who re- 
marks " that it was found adhering to the sides of the diver's 
boots." ^ The fish comes to maturity in six or seven years 
increasing about one inch each yeai\ It is only after they 
have attained their fifth year that pearls found in them are of 
any value, the older the shells and the more they are covered 
with a calcai'eous cinist the better. The number found in a 
shell varies considerably — sixty-seven have been taken firom 
one, but this was a rare circumstance, as the majority contain 
none. The best pearls are generally found in the fleshy part 
of the fish near the hinge. Some of the shells have a deep red 
tinge inside, and are called betel pearls by the natives. The 
divers say when pearls have been a long time in the fish they 
vomit them out, finding them disagi'eeable. 

Migrations of the pearl fish. — At the failure of the fishery 
in 1837 it was stated by a factious party in the colony " that 
the Government had allowed the banks to be over-fished and 
ruined in order to increase the revenue ;" but this was 
erroneous, the real cause being most probably that the fish 
migrate at times from their usual habitat to some other place, 
without leaving any clue to their whereabouts. There is still 
a good deal of mystery to be cleared up on this point. Dr. 
Kelaart's work giving little information on the subject. The 
divers attribute their disappearance to various causes, such as 
cun^ents in the sea burying them in sand, which is swept over 
them, want of rain, and devouring fish. They have many 
enemies, being eaten by chanks and other fish. Ten pearls 
were found in a species of sun-fish, caught by the sailors 
of the Wellington man-of-war guarding the fishery ; ^ and 
quite recently a new enemy has appeared in the gigantic ray 

^ The spat of the eating oyster acquires a shell in twenty-four hours. 

* Voy. Arabes. 

• Stewart, Mem., p. 9. 


Raja narinari), which does not seem to have been previously 
noticed. According to accounts fipom the colony given in the 
(daily papers these rays have invaded the fishery, destroying all 
before them, being discovered at the autumnal examination of 
the beds in 1872. Perhaps these were the fish which Pliny 
(ix. 2) says " the pearl divers had contests with.** His 
description could not apply to sharks, which the divers will not 
venture near, and the rays may be the old enemy come back 
again. The pearl fish do not entirely abandon their usual 
habitat, there being always more or less of them to be found 
about it, although often so few, or too young, to pay the 
expense of a fishery. 

The migrations were known to the Arabians many centuries 
since, and their statements on the subject are quoted by M. 
Eeinaud in his "M^m. sur Tlnde." Albyrouni, who lived in the 
eleventh century, mentions that in his time " the Ceylon fishery 
was suddenly exhausted, while at the same time one was formed 
at Sofala in Africa, and people were persuaded that the shell- 
fish transported themselves from one place to another." ^ It 
seems, however, improbable that they could move so far over 
the bed of the ocean, although the spawn when floating on the 
sea might be carried by winds or currents to some distance 
before it sinks to the bottom. 

A fishery was formed at Trincomalee in 1750, the only 
instance on record of their having selected that locality.^ 
Alexander of Bhodes, a Jesuit missionary in Southern India^ 
1610, remarks the coincidence of " the fish having left Tuto- 
corin along with the Jesuits, and their not returning until 
after the Fathers came back to their old mission, firom which 
they were absent some years." ^ It does not appear to have 
been remarked that the Bahreen fishery is subject to similar 

^ ' ' Leg pdcheries des perles ont des moments d'intennittence. Albyronni rapporte 
que de son temps la pdcherie de la mer de Ceylon s'^tait tout-^-conp ^pnis^e, et 
qa*il s*en etait formtf une antre Ik Sofala en Afrique. On €tait persuade qne lea 
coquiUages s*^taient transport's d'on lieu dans un autre." — M'm. p. 228. In his- 
Frag. Arabes, Reinaud gives a slightly different rendering of this passage, 

» J. R. A. S., iiL 456. 

» Hist, des Voy. xi. 353. 



During the Dutch occupation of Ceylon, a period of 140 
years, the failures in the fishery amounted to sixty, viz., from 
1656 to 1666, from 1732 to 1746, and from 1768 to 1795, and 
altogether they had only foui* good years, three of them fol- 
lowing each other, from 1747. Since the British obtained the 
island it failed from 1820 to 1828, and from 1837 to 1869, 
besides, various shorter periods and bad years. 

An idea appeai-s to have prevailed in the colony that the 
pearl 03'ster was incapable of voluntary movement, which is 
the more strange as it was well known long ago that this was 
a habit of all the conchifera, who are furnished by nature with 
a foot and the means of forming a byssus. Forbes and 
Handle}^ in their British Mollusca, ed. 1843, say, " All 
2Lmn\Rls o{ the Aviculacece genus have mantles freely open, and 
a small foot with a powerful byssiferous gland *' (ii. 251). 
The locomotive powers of the pearl-fish in particular were 
known to Reaumur 170 years since, and Le Beck, who visited 
the fishery at the end of the last century, remarks, " I have 
not the least doubt it has locomotive powers, using for this 
purpose its tongue ; tliis conjecture is strengthened by the 
observations of Eeaumur, who found that this body serves them 
as an arm or a leg to move from one place to another. Though 
the divers ai*e very ignorant of the economy of the pearl-fish, 
this change of habitation has been long since observed by 
them ; they allege it alters its abode when disturbed by an 
enemy or in search of food." ^ Cordiner also states " that he 
placed a number of young fish having the appearance of sand 
on the glass of a microscope, when they were seen to strike 
out a beard and move along with incredible ease and rapidity " 
(ii. 44). 

Artificial pearU. — The Chinese have for man}'' ages practised 
an ingenious way of growing pearls in the fish themselves — 
taking advantage of the fact that they deposit nacre on sub- 

* Asiat Researches, 1799, v. 1079. " Les conchifdres non fix& sont oidinaire- 
ment munis d'lin pied chamu beancoup . . . comma les moules, sdcrdtent nne 
substance comu ^lastique, tantdt en masse compacte, tantot en fils plus ou moina 
<l(;li6s, (Ju'on nomme leur byssus ; lis se fixent par ce moycn, mais lis conseirent 
la fa^ulU de changer de lieu en abandonnant I'ancicn byssus k mesare quails e& 
portent plus loin au nouveau."— D'Orbigny, Diet. Nat., Paris, 1846, viii 288. 


stances introduced into their shells, they manage in some way 
to drop or insert small beads of mother of pearl into them, 
and after a time they are fomid considerably increased in size, 
being regularly covered over with the pearly substance. The 
Chinese also make little pearl-covered images of Buddha by 
stamping out a rude figure in thin metal and introducing them 
into the shells. In the account of the voyage of the " No vara " 
(i. 888), it is stated "that the Topographia Is-chi-Kiang 
speaks of a pearl figure of Buddha which was sent to Pekin 
490 B.C." There seems to be some error here about the date, 
as the Chinese could have known nothing about Buddha at 
that time ; however, there is no doubt the art, like everything 
else in China, is very ancient. 

Philostratus, in his life of Apollonius of Tyana, men- 
tions that the Indians manufactured pearls from the living fish 
by pricking them with a sharp pointed instrument, " receiving 
the Hquid that flowed from the wounds into small holes in an 
iron plate." This account is supposed to be a fiction, and 
probably refers to the Chinese method. Linnseus, in 1761, is 
said to have proposed to make pearls by boring holes in the 
fishes' shells, which they would fill up with their secretion. 

In Europe the idea of making imitation pearls originated in 
Venice, about the beginning of the sixteenth century, by 
covering balls of wax with an amalgam of quicksilver, subse- 
quently' improved by Jaquin, a French glass-bead maker, who 
scraped the silvery scales off a small fish called Ablets by the* 
French (Leuciscus albumtis), and made from them the prepara- 
tion called "essence d'orient," with which glass beads are 
lined. This art, now brought to great perfection, has con- 
siderably reduced the price of real pearls. A French marquis 
of small means is said to have made an early use of Jaquin's 
invention, gaining the affections of a lady by presenting her 
with a necklace which cost him only three louis, while the 
lady, in ignorance, thought it worth 20,000 francs. 

The shell of the pearl oyster is not the " mother of pearl " 
of commerce, which is another species of mollusc that comes 
from the Sulu or Arrow islands, near Singap ore. This shell- 
fish produces few pearls, but gnarled excrescences are occa- 

u 2 


sionally found on the inner surface, which are highly prized 
by the Chinese. The only use made of pearl oyster shells is 
to bum them for lime. 

Description of the fishery. — The period when the fishery 
commences each year varies from March, the usual time, to 
May, but never later, on account of the swell from the south- 
west monsoon causing too much motion in the boats, and lasts 
about a month. Aripo and Condatchy, where it usually takes 
place, are two small fishing villages close to each other on the 
northern coast, consisting of a few scattered houses and official 
buildings, the Governor's Doric mansion, as it is called, being 
the chief feature, rising above the long sandy beach, from time 
immemorial resorted to by adventurers in the hope of gain. 

Few places are more dreary and barren than the country 
about Aripo, a river flows into the sea near the village, but 
water is very scaixe in the district. A few palms here and 
there on the coast, and a straggling thorny jungle inland, is 
the only vegetation to be seen. A hundred thousand people 
are said to be collected from all pai'ts of Asia during the month 
the fishery lasts, the vicinity assuming the appearance of a 
vast fair ; an immense impromptu bazaar, composed of huts 
and sheds made of palm leaves, mats, cotton-cloth, straw, and 
boards, rises by magic on the ban'en sands, thronged by a 
motley crowd, including snake charmers, jugglers, dancing 
girls, fakers, and vagabonds of every description, the variety 
of costume and feature affording many subjects for an artist's 
pencil. The whole fishery presenting a scene of novelty, 
variety, and disgust not to be matched, the air being poisoned 
by decaying fish, and many of the fakers you encounter, the 
most revolting objects that can be imagined. Besides the 
swarms on shore, the sea is covered with hundreds of canoes 
and dhoneys of all sizes, most of them from the opposite 
coast of India, biinging provisions and other goods to supply 
the wants of the crowd. Strong detachments of Malay police 
and military are also sent from Colombo, and a man-of-war 
stationed in the offing to maintain order. 

The banks of rock and coral to which the pearl-fish adhere 
are situated at different distances from the shore, varying from 


six to twelve miles, and the depth of water varies fipom seven 
to thirteen fathoms. The principal coral bank at Aripo is ten 
miles long and two broad. Previous to the fishery they are 
4ill examined by the Government boats and divers, and the 
places where the fish are to be found marked by buoys. The 
banks six or eight miles from the shore are preferred by the 
<iivers, the cmTents not being so strong as further out to sea. 
The greatest depth at which the fish can be reached by the 
divers is thirteen fathoms. 

The diving is performed from boats, generally about eight 
^r nine tons burden, without decks, and very rudely put 
together, having prow and stern alike, one mast, and a lug 
Bail, sewn with coir, and are quite unmanageable in a heavy 
sea. The crew consists of thii*teen men and a captain, with 
ten divers. The number of boats varies from a hundi*ed and 

The divers are principally Malabars, from Cape Comoiin, 
And a few come from the Pei'sian Gulf. They all wear amulets 
and charms against shai'ks, given to them by a professional 
" shark charmer,'* called in Tamil Kadal-Katti, and in Hindu 
Hai-bandha, or shark binders. This important and indispens- 
able functionary — for no diver would dare ventm-e below the 
surface without a charm — was some years since paid by 
Oovemment, at the rate of ninepence per diem, and a bonus 
of ten fish from each boat. He is, in fact, a Government 
official, the office being hereditai*y in his family, and, strange 
to relate, the circumstance that this functionaiy in 1847 was 
A Catholic in no way impaired the virtue of his charms in the 
eyes of the divers.^ He is assisted in the business by one or 
two neoph3rtes, members of the family, and usually accompanies 
the divers boats. The divers have not much in reality to 
dread from the sharks, as the noise made by the multitude in 
the boats frightens them away, sharks being naturally timid 
and cowardly ; besides the dark colour of the divers' skins pre- 
vents the fish seeing them far off. This is so well known that 
the Persian and Ai*abian divers, whose skins are paler than the 
Malabars, blacken them on purpose. Accidents from sharks 

* Teuneut. 


rarely happen, but occasionally one of the divers has an arm 
or a leg bitten off, and there have been some instances when 
those in the Persian Gulf were cut in two by the gigantic saw- 
fish ( Pristis antiquorum). Sharks are said to be much more 
dangerous at night than during the day ; however, such is the 
dread of these formidable fish among the men that when one 
is seen the fishing is suspended for the day. Some of the 
Malabar divers are Christians, and the Portuguese priest of 
the village gives them rosaries and amulets containing extracts 
from scripture, written on palm leaves, wrapped up in oil 
paper. Ccesar Frederick saj-s in his time (1563) the divers 
were all Christians, under the care of the friai's of St. Vincent 
of Paul, and this was generally the case during the Portuguese 

Mas'udi mentions that "the divers in the Persian Gulf 
blackened their legs to frighten away * sea monsters,* ^ and also 
filled their ears with cotton steeped in oil, and stopped their 
nostiils with a piece of tortoise-shell shaped like the iron of a 
lance, which compelled them to slit the root of the ear in order 
to breathe." Some of the practices he mentions are alluded 
to by other travellers, and are still in use among the Bahreen 
divers. Ibn Batuta says tliey put a piece of tortoise shell up 
their nostrils, and also covered their face with a mask of 
the same material, from which it is to be inferred he was 
alluding to some kind of diving helmet, also mentioned by 
Mandelsloe, who says they were made of leather with a long 
pipe attached to them, but it is probable both these travellers 
were romancing. Colonel Wilson, in a memoir on the Persian 
Gulf fishery in the " Joimial of the Geographical Society," 
1838, says the modem divers use a small piece of horn that 
compresses the nostrils and keeps the water out, and also stuff 
their ears with wax for the same piu^ose. These practices 

1 ''lis s^induisaient les pieds et les jainbos d une substance noir&tre, afin de 
faire peur anx monstres inariiis, qui sans cela sCraient tenths de les d6vourer ; ils se 
fendaient la racine de Toreille pour respirer ; en effet, ils ne peuvent se servir 
pour cet objet des narines, ru qu'ils les bouchent avec des morceaux d'^ailles 
de tortue marine .... ayant la forme d'un fer de lance. £n mdme temps, ils 
80 mettent dans Toreille lu coton tremp& dans Thuile.*'— Reinand, AI6m. sur 
I'lude, p. 228. 


are however, rejected by the Comorin and Ceylon divers, who 
only compress their nostrils with the left hand. 

Manner of diving. — Every evening towards midnight the 
boats containing the divers put off from the shore to the beds, 
where they anchor and wait for the signal gun at sunrise to 
commence diving, which is superintended by the Government 
inspector stationed in the boat of the head Adapanner or chief 
of the divers. 

In order to descend to the bottom as rapidly as possible, the 
divers stand on a stone of a conical shape with the point down- 
wards, weighing from fifteen to twenty-five pounds, suspended 
from a rope passed over a boom projecting from the side of the 
boat, and secured with a slip knot. The stone has a hole in the 
top, through which the rope is passed and formed into a loop like 
the stirrup of a saddle. They also take with them a bag net 
made of coir thread stretched on an iron hoop, something like 
an angler's net without the handle, and to which a running rope 
is attached.^ When about to descend, the diver takes hold of 
the rope from which the stone is suspended, with his right 
hand and puts his right foot into the loop, placing the net 
between his legs, with the left foot on the hoop ; being thus 
ready he presses his nostril with his left hand, and giving the 
rope a sharp pull descends with great rapidity to the bottom, 
where he abandons the stone, which is pulled up by the men in 
the boat. The moment the diver reaches the bottom he throws 
himself on his hand and knees, filling his net as rapidly as 
possible with all the shells within his reach, sometimes crawl- 
ing a few yards before he finds them. He then pulls the rope 
attached to the net, which is hauled up by the men in the boat, 
coming up part of the way with it, when he lets go, and 
rises by himself to the surface, where he rests holding on 
to the boat or paddling in the water while another diver descends 
with the same stone, two of them being attached to each. 
This manner of diving is very simple, and cannot be much 

* Some writers in dcsoribing the pt»arl fishery say erroneously the clivers use 
baskets to put the shells in ; a basket would be a very awkward thing for a diver 
to drag to the bottom. Marco Polo, with his usual accuracy, mentions the net. 


A quantity of water ai\d blood frequently issues from the 
diver's mouth, ears, and nose when they reach the surface, 
which is thought by them to relieve the head, and the employ- 
ment, though severe and very exhausting at the time, is gene- 
rally considered healthy and conducive to bodily vigour. They 
descend about fifty times in a day, and abstain from food 
during the occupation. A good diver will bring up from 8,000 
to 4,000 shells in a day, but this in a great measure depends 
on the profusion or otherwise of the fish within their reach at 
the bottom ; sometimes they are able to get 150 fish into the 
net, at other times only half-a-dozen. 

The usual time that a diver remains under water is from 
fifty to sixty seconds, according as the depth varies from nine 
to thirteen fathoms, although some divers can stay longer. 
Captain Percival makes the general time from two to five 
minutes, which is much too long. Captain Stewart, who was 
superintendent, says they seldom remain under water more than 
from fifty-three to fifty-seven seconds ; ^ having requested some 
to stay below as long as possible, he found they remained eighty- 
four seconds, being then w^amed by a singing noise in the ears 
and a choking sensation to ascend. He also mentions that 
some French officers who visited the fishery in 1828, offered a 
reward to the diver who should remain longest under water, 
when one of them stayed eighty-seven seconds. Ribeyro 
roughly estimated the period as being that in which a person 
could repeat two credos — " Se gasto dous credos de tempo." * 
Colonel Wilson states two minutes is the average time that 
the Bahreen divers remain down ; and Le Beck says he saw a 
Kaffir boy from Karical remain under water for seven minutes, 
which seems incredible.* 

Some years since, the average earnings of a diver during the 
fishery was from thirty-five to forty rupees, or about SL ISs. 4td. 
for eight days* work, being rarely employed longer. 

Soon after noon the diving ceases, and the boats taking 
advantage of the sea-breeze which usually springs np, then 

* Mem., p. 58. * Lib. i., ch. xxii. 

> Asia. Res., v. 402 ; J. G. S., iii. 284. 


return to the shore, where a crowd of men, women, and chil- 
dren, are in waiting to unload them. 

The principal speculators in the fishery usually sub-let the 
right to fish to adventurers, chiefly firom India, who fit out boats 
for the purpose. The shell fish are also sold by the thousand 
to smaller speculators who either open them themselves, or 
retail them to all who are inclined to try their luck, a general 
sale of fish taking place every evening when the boats arrive, 
as there are few persons at the fishery who do not speculate 
more or less. The price varies from seven to eighty rupees 
per thousand, according to the season, and two shell-fish can 
be had ordinarily for a " fanam " or three-hal^ence. A story 
is told of a poor man who bought three fish for that sum, and 
found in one of them the largest pearl obtained during the 
season. The number of fish brought to shore each evening 
regulates the price, for a fishery may begin very well and end 
badly, as no very accurate estimate can be formed before- 
hand of the number of fish the beds will yield. Sometimes 
a boat will bring 80,000 to shore, and on other days not half 
that number, and 2,000,000 have been landed in a single 
day. The fishery of 1814 was calculated to have produced 
76,000,000, the largest number ever known.^ At the re-opening 
of the fishery in 1857, " an enormous quantity were landed, 
1,500,000 being brought to shore daily ; ** ^ in 1859 it pro- 
duced 9,584,951. 

The purchasers of a few hundred or less fish usually open 
them at once, and some bury them in holes in the sand ; it is said 
keeping them until the flesh in the shells decomposes, injures 
the colour of the pearls, turning them yellow, while opening 
them by force is apt to damage the pearls, and would not be 
practicable on a large scale, so that by far the greater number 
of fish are left in heaps in hollow enclosures called " cottoos " 
until they are decomposed ; the " cottoos *' are made of bricks 
and covered with sheds fenced roimd and guarded to prevent 

^ Cordiner mentions that some merchants brought 20,000 pagodas with them 
to speculate, and purchased £4000 worth of pearls in a day. In 1798 the chief 
renter paid the Government £140,000, and realised £192,000 (iL 78). 

' Report of Qovemor, Blue Books, 1860, xxL 143. 


The putrefaction of such immense numbers of fish 
engenders vast swarms of flies, who fill the air and infest 
the habitations, no place being free from them, while the 
atmosphere is corrupted for miles, and is perfectly horrible, 
producing at first nausea, but after a time the nose and stomach 
become accustomed to it, and some persons have even thought 
it has the eflFect of sharpening the appetite. The wonder is, 
it does not create a pestilence, particularly where water is so 
scarce that every drop of it has to be purchased, but it is said 
" the mortality is not greater at Aripo than among the crowded 
populations of the native tow^ns ; vegetable decomposition being 
considered more fatal in tropical climates than animal." ^ 

When the fish are suflBciently decomposed, they are thrown 
into troughs and well washed in sea-water, the odour which 
arises from this process being fearful; the shells are then 
removed and examined, as pearls are sometimes found growing 
to them, which are cut off, search is next made for the larger 
pearls in the bottom of the troughs. When they are secured, the 
sand and mud in the troughs is searched for the small and seed 
pearls, which is performed by women and children, who sit in 
rows on mats with the sand spread on brass trays in their laps, 
when it is carefully looked over and the pearls picked out. 
The next operation is " the sorting," all the pearls being 
screened through ten brass sieves shaped like saucers fitting 
into each other, the holes in them decreasing in size from the 
first to the last, through which only seed pearls pass. 

It has been ascei*tained that the pearls of all sizes found 
in 17,000 fish amounted to three-quarters of a pound in 
weight, about sufiicient to fill the bottom of a small soup 
plate.^ Some curious calculations can be deduced from this : 
taking as an average that 20,000 fish yield one pound weight 
of pearl, a fishery that produced 10,000,000 of fish would give 
500 pounds of pearls, w^hich at £80 per pound would be 
dB40,000, the average value of such a fishery, according to the 
revenue returns; taking the total sum received since the British 
occupation at iEl,200,000, and dividing it by £80, the average 

* Dr. Marshall's Ceyloii. ' Cordiner, p. 68. 


price of sorting pearls,^ gives 15,000 pounds weight of pearl 
collected since the year 1795 to the present time, or nearly 
seven tons! of these precious gems decorating the fair sex in 
various parts of the world, besides those collected in past ages 
of which no estimate can be formed. 

Drilling and polishing pearls. — These gems imdergo various 
operations before they leave the hands of the dealer ; by far the 
larger proportion as they come from the shells are irregular in 
shape, and many have little excrescences on them which require 
to be cut oflf, while others of a dark colour are improved by 
having the outer coating of nacre removed, which reveals one 
imdemeath clear and brilliant, and they all require more or 
less polishing with powders made of rice, salt and seed 

Among the multitude who resort to Aripo are numbers of 
artizans from India, skilled in all these operations; the Indian 
workmen are more expert at drilling pearls than the European, 
making a smaller and straighter hole ; the machine they use 
for this purpose is of the most primitive description, being a 
cone-shaped block of wood with short legs inserted in the base, 
on the upper flat surface are various holes into which the pearls 
are placed, being kept in their position by a small wooden 
wedge. The drill is a reed with a needle at one end, and an 
iron point at the other working in a hole in a piece of cocoa-nut 
shell, pressed against the man's forehead, while he sits with his 
head bent over the block, turning the drill with a bamboo bow, 
occasionally moistening the peai-1 with a drop of water applied 
with the little finger. 

The annual spring pilgrimage to the great Hindu Pagoda 
in the island of Bamiseram is a kind of appendix to the pearl 
fishery, taking place about the same time. Thousands of 
fakers and pilgrims cross over from Southern India, and the 
fishery is sometimes interrupted by the divers leaving as pil- 
grims. A person can here get a very good idea of the habits and 
manners of India, the most painful objects it is possible to con- 
ceive, abound among the self-tortured fanatics who crowd the 
vicinity, mixed with the gaudily painted and gilded vehicles of the 

* Milburn, "Oriental Commerce." 


richer devotees, drawn by cream-coloured oxen with large humps 
and deep dewlaps ; some of these Brahmin cattle as they are 
called, being splendid animals. When the ceremonies at 
Bamiseram are ended, numbers of the pilgrims pass on to 
Dondi*a Head, and others go to Adam's Peak. These i)ilgrimage8 
are a pubHc nuisance, and ought to be prohibited in conse- 
quence of the total disregard to sanitary precautions gene- 
rally bringing some epidemic with them. 



This plant is not indigenous in Ceylon, having been intro- 
duced from some other country, but by whom or when is not 
known ; some suppose it was either the Arabians or Persians, 
and it is said to have been growing in the island before the 
arrival of the Portuguese, in 1505 ;^ but there is no proof of 
this. {Vide ch. xxxv.) 

The use of coffee as an alimentary infusion seems to have 
been first practised in Abyssinia, where the tree is indigenous, 
growing wild on the western moimtains. She-ha-beddin-ben, 
an Arab writer of the fifteenth century, says it has been used 
by the Abyssinians from time immemorial. In Arabia, where 
the plant is supposed to have been brought from Abyssinia, 
its use as a beverage is attributed to Gem-all-eddin, mufti of 
Aden in Arabia Felix, who became acquainted with it in 
Persia about the middle of the fifteenth century. According 
to an " MS.*' in the Paris Libiary, coffee was first used there 
in A.D. 875.^ The period of the introduction of the coffee 
plant into India is also unknown, the first who mentions it as 
a product of the peninsula is an Arab writer in Quatremdre's 
" Memoire sur TEgypte," who says it was brought from India 
along with other merchandize to Jedda, in the year of the 
Hejira 831 (a.d. 1453).» 

> Tennent, Ceylon, iL 226. 

• M. Herat, quoted by Dr. Pcreira, ii 67 ; Ellis, " Hiatoiy of Coffee," ed. 1774. 

' " L'an 881 on apporta an Cairo la dime qne Ton avoit lev^ snr les marchands 
de rinde qni abordoient h, Djiddah (Jedda) ; elle conaiatoit en cafi^ en schals et 
antres objets de commerce, yalant cinqnante miUe dinars." — "iUm. sur TEgypte, 
p. 299. 



Coffee was first publicly sold at Constantinople in the year 
1554; its introduction into that city, as well as at Cairo and 
other places, led to several riots, the Turkish mufU com- 
plained that the mosques were deserted for the coffee-shops, 
and they were at one time closed by the authorities ; it is a 
curious coincidence that the drinking of coffee in England was 
also forbidden by a proclamation of Charles II., in the year 
1675, as leading to seditious assemblies. 

The first European who mentions coffee was Leonhart 
Eauwolff, a German physician, who travelled in the East in 
1573, but his acc(Junt is not very accurate ; according to him 
it was called ''chaube" in Alei^po, and brought there from 
India. The plant was next accurately described by Prosper 
Alpinus, a traveller in Eg}'pt in 1580, in his " Plant® 
^gyptae ;" ^ he says it was called Ban or Bun by the Ara- 
bians, one of their names for the plant at the present time. 
The term is also'used in Hindustan. The other Arabian name, 
** kawah," is similar to the Persian. William Finch, a mer- 
chant in India, appears to be the fii'st Englishman who speaks 
of the bevemge, saying "there is in Socotra a black bitter 
(U'ink which the inhabitants sij) hot."- 

Its introduction into Western Europe is attributed to the 
Venetians ; there is a letter written by Pedro De-la- Valle, the 
well-known traveller, in 1615, from Constantinople, in which he 
states his intention of bringing some home with him. About 
twenty-five years later some gentlemen brought the berry to 
Mai'seilles,^ but it was not until many years after that the 
fii'st coffee-house was opened there. In 1671 an Armenian, 
named Pascal, opened a '* cafe " in Paris, nineteen j^ears after 
its introduction into London, where the first coffee-shop was 
opened by a Greek named Pasqua, in George-yard, Lombard- 
street, in the year 1652. 

" It was introduced into the Arcliipelago by the Dutch in 
1690, when some seeds obtained from Arabia were sown in the 
garden of the Dutch governor. Van Home, at Batavia ; they 

* Quoted by Dr. Mos^ey in his "Treatise on Coffee," liOndon, 1792. 
» Purchw, CoU. Voy., p. 419. 
» De la Roque, Voy., ii. 310. 

COFFEE. 303 

grew and produced fruit, one of the plants was sent to Hol- 
land as a present, and surviving the voyage round the Cape, 
was planted in a botanical garden at Amsterdam, where it 
flourished ; some plants from it were subsequently sent to 
Surinam in 1718, and from thence taken to the West Indian 
islands in 1728." ^ 

It is not known when the Dutch first tried to cultivate 
cofifee in Ceylon ; they do not appear to have been successful 
in their endeavours, as after a time they abandoned the pro- 
ject. The natives, however, who had become aware of its 
value, cultivated it in small quantities roimd their hamlets, 
which sui^plied the bazaars of Colombo with the berry, and 
previous to 1840 the principal part of that exported was of 
native growth. When the English captured Kcmdy they found 
numbers of coflfee plants growing in places under the trees in 
the jungle, which were stated to have been planted in order 
that their flowers might be used in the temples. 

The Dutch are said to have discouraged coffee growing in 
Ceylon, which was reserved for Java, but it is more probable that 
they found the parts of the island in their possession imsuited 
for the profitable growth of the plant ; a fact which many 
English planters afterwards discovered to their cost. Governor 
Schreuder in his report, 1762, says, " only 200,000 lbs. of 
coffee have been grown, as the competition from Java and the 
West Indies is so great we cannot keep up the price, so the 
culture fell off." ^ According to M. Bumard, Ceylon coffee 
is superior to Java, resembling the Arabian, where the first 
plants came from. 

With regard to the statement that the coffee plant was 
growing in the island when the Portuguese arrived, it is strange 
if such were the case that the Dutch should have sent to 
Arabia for seeds to plant in Batavia, when they might have 
obtained them in Ceylon. In all probability the introduction 
of the berry is due to them. Sinmionds says it was intro- 
duced in 1730 from Java, and Governor Van Imof in his 
report, 1740, mentions they had begun to plant it. 

* Crawford, Diet, of Arch. 

* Reports of Dutch Governors in Lee's Ribeyro, p. 193. 



After the occupation of the island by the English some 
attempts at coffee planting were made at Gindura,^ about six- 
teen miles from Galle, which were unsuccessful. Sir Edward 
Barnes was the first to point out the hill district as a more 

» Lewis, Hist. Coffee Plai 

I., 1855 ; 

Bumard, Asia. Jour., zi. 444. 

The following are some 

of the exports of Coffee from Ceylon since 1806 

1806 . 

94,500 Ihs. 


217,000 „ 

1813 . 

216,000 „ BertolaccL 


• • 

. 1,792,000 „ 

1887 • 

• 1 

6,756,000 „ 


• • 

. 19,475,000 „ 

1857 . 

• 1 

67,450,000 „ Tennent. 


• • 

897,624 cwt. Blue Books. 

1868 • 

• « 

1,607,838 „ 


• • fl 

919,065 „ 

Reports in Blue Books : 1867-8, vol. xlviii ; 1870, voL xlix. 

Export of Coffee from the West Indies since 1827, in round numbers 

1828 30,000,000 lbs. 

1831 20,000,000 

1841 ,9,900,000 

1850 -. . . • . . - 4,260,000 



From whole of English Colonies except Ceylon for half year 1871, 

13,011,478 lbs.--Blue Books. 

Number of acres of land sold for Coffee Plantations from 1837 to 1845. 

1837 3,681 

1838 10,401 

1839 9,670 

1840 42,841 

1841 78,841 

1842 48,533 

1843 58,336 

1844 20,415 

1846 19,062 

From Calcutta Rev., 1857. 

In 1660 a tax of 4d. per gallon was imposed on coffee in England, being at 
that time only sold in a liquid state. In 1732 a tax of 2s. per lb. was substi- 
tuted for it ; and in 1824 the duties were U. on West Indian, Is. 6d. on East 
Indian, and 2s, 6d. on foreign, but reduced the following year to one half. In 
1835 the duties on East and West India were equalised. A further reduction was 
made in 1842 to 4d. on British and Sd. on foreign, the latter being reduced in the 
following year to 6d. In 1851 protection to Colonial produce was withdrawn, the 
duties being equalised to Zd. per lb. 

COFFEE. 305 

suitable locality, and taking advantage of the reduction of 
duty to one-half in England in 1825, which led to an in- 
creased consumption, several plantations were formed about 
Gampola and Peradenia ; one at Gangarowa belonged to him- 
self; but little progress was made imtil after 1887, when 
nearly 4000 acres were planted. At this time the great 
falling oflf in the supply of coffee from the West Indies in con- 
sequence of the abolition of slavery in 1880, gave an impetus 
to the Ceylon and Indian trade, and the profits accruing from 
the estates then coming into bearing through this unlooked 
for event, gave rise to the coffee mania of Ceylon, which com- 
menced about 1840, and ended in the collapse of 1845, mainly 
caused by the sudden lowering of the differential duties on 
foreign coffee, 50 per cent, in 1843, with the prospect of the 
withdrawal of aU protection from the competition of foreign 
countries soon after. 

The rush which took place in those five years to the jungles 
of Ceylon resembled that to the Australian gold diggings ; 
besides the number of civil seiTants and military in the island 
who embarked in the affair, many speculators came from 
India, Europe, and elsewhere ; and in the single year of 1841, 
78,841 acres of jungle were sold, the hills and valleys round 
Kandy, Dombera, Ambagammoa, Pusilawa, Kotmalee, and 
the sides of Adam's Peak resoimded with the blows of the 
planter's axe and the crash of falling timber. The haunt of 
the elephant was invaded by the white man from the West, 
and it seemed as if in a few years there would not be a tree 
left to shelter them. At the mess-table, in the private circle, 
in the ball-room, nothing was talked off but coffee. Thou- 
sands of Malabar coolies, attracted by the golden harvest for 
their labour, swarming across the straits at Bamiseram, in- 
vaded the island and marched to the scene of operations. 

It has been estimated that £5,000,000 were invested in a 
few years in the speculation which ended so disastrously to the 
majority of those who engaged in it. Two valuable estates at 
Badulla, worth £10,000, were sold for £350, and one at 
Hindugalla, worth £10,000, brought £500.^ Mr. Austin, in a 

1 ** Calcutta Renew," March, 1861-67. 
VOL. n« X 


memoii' attached to Lee's Eibeyro, mentions that an estate 
which was sold in 1843 for £15,000, was knocked down at an 
auction in 1847 for £40 ? ^ Mr. Eigg, in the " Journal of the 
Archipelago " for 1852, calculates that ninety per cent, of the 
speculators lost everything, seven per cent, picked up only the 
fragments of their property, two per cent., who took the hint 
in time of what was coming, got ofiF clear, and one per cent, 
made a fortune. Mr. Fergusson makes the number of aban- 
doned estates much less, being only one-tenth of the whole.* 

Although tliere is no doubt the Government of the day were 
liighly to blame for neglecting the interest of the colony in 
favour of the foreigner, by making a sudden reduction in the 
differential duties which protected the colonists, and on the 
faith of which the speculators had embarked — still, some of 
the disaster which befell them was owing to themselves and 
ignorance of the nature of the soil ; one Scotchman is related 
to have actually planted an estate in the height of the dry 
season, plantations were formed on villainous quartz rock, 
where there was very little mould, and this was washed away 
by thunderstorms, when the bmshwood, which kept it in its 
2)lace, was removed. In other cases the phosphates in the soil 
were exhausted in a few years, and the plants withered ; dis- 
tricts which seemed all that was desii'able at first, proved to be 
unsuited for the continued profitable cultivation of the plant 
without an amount of manuring and care which never entered 
the [imagination of the speculators, who concluded that the 
soil of a virgin forest would have borne crops for an indefinite 
period, but the soil of Ceylon is peculiar. 

Liebig has estimated that there is a preponderance of lime 
in the coffee plant, containing seventy-seven per cent., potash 
twenty, and silex three. Dr. Gygax, in the Jour. Ceylon A. 
Soc, makes it sixty per cent, of lime ; he says, " If this sub- 
stance is not in the soil it must be supplied by artificial means. 
It is a singular fact, that the rocks of Ceylon are deficient in 
alkaline matter, and taking this view one can no longer wonder 
why so many plantations failed — the burning of the trees which 

* Lee's Ribeyro, p. 229. 

2 " Colombo Observer," 1857, quoted by Sir K Tennent. 

COFFEE. 307 

covered the land contributed a great portion, but this was soon 
dissipated by heavy rains and other causes. Nature, however, 
supplies the deficiency in another way, through the dolomite, 
which in some places is not pure, being mixed with apatite and 
phosphate of lime ; estates situated where this is found answer 
well, while those on the pure magnesian lime-stone are bad." 
Burnt dolomite makes a good manure, but the best is said to 
be the leaves of the trees themselves, or bone dust, but this 
is expensive ; guano has been tried and does not answer ; the 
Sinhalese have been long aware of the value of bone manure, 
and use it in their paddy fields. 

The Rambodde district has been found to produce the best 
cofifee, and Dombera the worst ; the Ambagammoa district is 
also not good. The best situations are hill sides, at an eleva- 
tion of between 3,000 to 6,000 feet, refreshed by frequent 
showers, and where the temperature ranges from about 60° in 
the morning to 75° at noon. The higher it is cultivated below 
frost at night the better, the quality being superior to that 
grown lower down, but the produce is less, averaging about 
seven cwt. per acre. The yield is said to vary in different 
parts of the island from four to fifteen cwt. per acre. Estates 
situated on dry land in the vale of Dombera have been im- 
proved by irrigation. The requirements of the coffee plant in 
Ceylon with regard to moisture do not harmonise with its 
growing in Arabia Felix, where there is so little rain, but it is 
said to be often a failure there from dry weather ; the principal 
crop is grown on the sides of hills in the neighbourhood of 
Aden; when grown on lower ground it is planted among 
larger trees to shade it. 

The capacity of some parts of Ceylon to produce coffee at 
a fair profit ^ on the capital laid out seems to be proved from 
the way the trade in the berry has survived the collapse of 
1845, and the competition of other countries ; the export in 
1868 being 1,007,338 cwt., valued at £2,563,999, and paying 
the Government of the colony an export duty of £50,867. 

' Sir H. Robinson, the late Governor, in his Report on the Colony for 1867-8 
says, *' I believe there never was a time when coffee was more remunerative than 
at present if only judiciously conducted." — xlviii., 1871. 

X 2 


The first speculators, who expected to realise an imm 
fortune in a few years, have been succeeded by others, wl 
expectations are more moderate, and, profiting by the ] 
takes of others, have placed coffee planting in the island < 
satisfactory footing. The average quantity annually expo 
since 1865 has been 950,000 cwt., valued at £2,350,000 ; 
in 1871 the import of Ceylon coffee into England exceedec 
7,000,000 or 8,000,000 lbs. that fi-om all other parts of 
world put together.^ There has been a great decrease in 
export of native coffee since 1872, and a direct trade 
Mediterranean ports has sprung up since the opening of 
Suez Canal, annually increasing. Still, according to n 
accounts, it is not a very profitable business, and one sub 
to many risks ; the wages of the Malabar coolies are high, 
must be imported for them from India, and the carriage of 
produce to the coast is expensive.^ Then the coffee tree 
numerous enemies, being much ravaged by squirrels, monk< 
wild cats, and rats, who eat the ripe berries and young sho 
A fly called the coffee bug at one time threatened to desi 
whole plantations, and new pests in the shape of insects 
constantly showing themselves. 

The labour of clearing the jungle and cutting down the t 
is immense ; when the site is a side of a hill advantage 
taken of the slope of the gi'ound to clear it in a very exp 
tious manner. All the trees are cut half through first, 

> The total imports of coffee into the United Kingdom for the first half of 
were as follows : — 

Ceylon 47,339,226 lbs. 

Other Colonies .... 13,011,478 „ 

BrazU 16,946,114 „ 

Central America .... 8,962,384 ,, 
Other countries 9,221,092 ,, 

Reports in Blue Books, 1871, voL Ixii 

The most absurd statements were made of the fortunes to be realised by < 
planting, for instance, "300 acres might be planted and kept up for sc 
years, yielding a net profit of £11,900, for an expenditure of £8040, and for 
a property worth £16,000."— Calcutta Review, 1857. 

' One enterprising planter employs a traction engine brought from £ng' 
From 1841 to 1848 £2,000,000 worth of rice was imported. 

COFFEE. 309 

being accomplished, a number of them at the top of the hill 
are cut down at the same time, and, falling on those below, 
their weight brings the remainder down with a succession of 
tremendous crashes that can be heard a great distance. The 
trees are often so entangled and tied together by gigantic 
climbing plants, Bavhinias and Mimosea, called jungle rope 
by the planters, passing from tree to tree like the rigging of a* 
ship, that this is the only plan of clearing the forest without 
an expenditure of labour that would be ruinous. Sometimes 
the jungle rope is made to help the process of clearing by 
cutting the trees quite through at the bottom first, their weight 
pulling those at the top down. The fallen trees are subse- 
quently burnt. The cost of clearing an acre of land has 
been estimated at from £8 to £10, the price of the land 
being £1. 

Although at the commencement of the clearing of the 
forests many Kandyans and Sinhalese from the low country 
flocked to the scene of labour, tempted by the high wages 
offered by the i)lanters, they soon found out that the work was 
too hard for them, and could not be induced to continue at it 
for any length of time. The Kandyan returned to cultivate 
his rice field, and the Sinhalese sought the low coimtry to 
spend his hardly earned money in gambling. In this dilemma 
the planters turned their attention to India to furnish the 
labour required, and Malabar coolies, naturally an industrious 
race, were induced to emigrate to Ceylon.^ 

The herding together of thousands of these wretched coolies 
— badly fed, clothed, and housed, there being no accommoda- 
tion for them in those wild and uninhabited places, but such 

^ Number of Malabar Coolies who emigrated to Ceylon from 1841 to 1848. 

1841 4,000 

1842 9,000 

1843 6,000 

1844 74,000 

1845 72,000 

1846 41,000 

1847 44,000 

1848 12,000 

From Mr. Rigg*s J. of thd Arch., 1857. 


as the planters could hastily put together, exposed to the chill 
night dew, over-worked, and fatigued by a long journey through 
the northern provinces, the route by which the majority of 
them travelled — caused a great deal of disease and mortality. 
It has been estimated that in eight years 70,000 Malabar emi- 
grants died on the coffee plantations of Ceylon.^ Many, how- 
ever, saved money and returned to India after a few years, 
canning with them, it is said, ^£400,000, ninepence per diem, 
the wages paid, not being bad with their frugal habits. 

Coffee belongs to the order Cinchona<;e(S,^ There are several 
plants in different coimtries resembling the Arabian (C arabica), 
but it is the only one which contains the principle called 
caffein that renders it so valuable. Two or three allied plants 
are found in Ceylon and India, and stray plants of the true 
coffee tree spring up in the jungles from seeds carried by birds. 

The coffee tree gi-ows naturally to a height of fifteen feet, 
throwing out lateral branches all round the stem, but when 
cultivated is pruned into a pyramidal form, fom* or five feet 
high, and usually produces fruit in four years, ceasing to bear 
at twenty-five years. Young plants are sown in a seed bed, 
being transplanted in rows about eight feet apart. The leaves 
are oval and sharp pointed, and the flowers white, with a five- 
cleft corolla, growing in clusters round the branches, producing 
an oval beny resembling an olive when young, but when quite 
ripe, of a deep crimson, and like a cherry, with a sweetish- 
tasting pulp surroundmg the seeds, which are enclosed in a 
kind of parchment sack with a very thin silvery inner skin ; 
generally there are two seeds witli the flat sides lying together, 
when there is only one seed it is small and round, and reputed 
to make the best coffee. 

The period when the crop ripens varies in different districts, 
but the main part comes to maturity in October and November^ 

* A law was passed in 1867 imposing restrictions on the superintendents of 
coffee estates and regulating labour. In 1872 it was proposed to compel proprie- 
tors of estates to provide medical aid and accommodation for sick Coolies em- 
ployed by them, and to report within twenty-four hours every death that 
occurred, &c. — Ceylon Gov. Gazette, 1872. 

' The true coffee tree is said to have been found growing ^ild near Rio de 
Janeiro by Meyen. — Geog. Bot., English trans., p. 884. 

COFFEE. 311 

flowering in March, when the small pure white flowers bloom 
in the most sudden manner, all opening in a single night, and 
filling the air with a perfume like jessamine. When the ripe 
berries are gathered they are passed through a mill to separate 
the pulp from the parchment covering the seeds. Several 
machines have been invented for this purpose. That in general 
use some years since was a wooden cylinder covered with a 
sheet of brass punctured with holes like a nutmeg grater. 
After the benies have been pulped they are thrown into heaps 
until they ferment a little, when they are well washed and then 
dried in the sun. The frequent showers and dampness of the 
hill climate often prevents the perfect drjHing of the berries, 
and machines have been invented for forcing a current of air 
through them. 

When the parchment covering is quite hard and dry it is 
crushed imder a wooden wheel to separate it from the berries 
inside. They are then forwarded to Colombo, where they are 
again dried and picked in the sun by women. Some proprietors 
I)refer sending the hemes in the parchment to Colombo, where 
they are crushed. 

Dr. Gardner, of the Peradenia Gardens, took out a patent 
for dr}Hing coffee leaves, to be used as an infusion like tea, but 
although the infusion is quite as good as that from the berry, 
the plan has not answered in a commercial point of view, as 
removing the leaves is said to injure the plants. Coffee leaves 
have long been used in this way in Sumatra.^ 

Mr, Fergusson, who has written one of the best accounts of 
coffee planting, estimated the number of estates in 1857 at 
403, containing 80,950 acres in full bearing, giving employ- 
ment to 129,200 coolies, and producing 347,100 cwt. of coffee ; 
at the same time there were 60,000 acres belonging to natives, 
producing 160,000 cwt. ; the total acreage being 130,000. In 
the reports on the agriculture of the island for 1864,* the 
number of acres in coffee is set down at 162,700, which, at an 
average of five cwt. per acre, would give 813,500 cwt., about 
the quantity of coffee exported at that time, and employed 
146,000 coolies- 

> Dr. Hooker, Report £xh., 1851. - Vol. Ixxii. Rep., 1866. 



The varieties of the palm family are not so numerous in 
Ceylon as India, but some of the most useful attain a higher 
degree of perfection than in any part of the world ; altogether, 
there are fifteen species.^ 

Arecas. — The most important of these is the A.catechti, '^poo- 
wak" of the Sinhalese, a very graceful tree from forty to seventy- 
five feet high, with a remarkably slender trunk surmounted by 
a tuft of dark green feathery leaves. When five years old it 
begins to flower, producing the well-known areca-nut, which 
hangs in clusters from a bimch of very fine stalks, looking like 
diminutive cocoa-nuts, being covered with a similar fibrous 
husk. The nut is brown veined internally with white, and 
when fresh cuts easily with a knife, becoming hard and dry 
with age. They have been analysed by Morin, and contain a 
large proportion of tannin.^ 

Unlike the cocoa-nut, which only flourishes on the coast and 
loves the saline breeze, the areca grows well in the interior, 
being largely cultivated in the native gardens of the southern 
and central provinces chiefly for the sake of the nuts, each tree 
producing about 200 annually, the flowers diffusing a delightful 
fragrance in their vicinity. Great quantities are brought down 
the Kaluganga from the neighbourhood of Batnapoora, forming 
a valuable and extensive article of export, amoimting in 1867 
to 97,159 cwt., valued at ^£74,869, chiefly to Mauritius, the 
Maldives, and India, where they are highly esteemed and used 
as a masticatory along with betel. 

A species of catechu, or terra Japonica, a clayey-looking sub- 

1 ThwaiW Plan. Zey. ^ Pereira, i. 168. 


stance, used for dyeing calico a golden brown, is made by boil- 
ing ai'eca-nuts in an iron pot with water until the liquid 
becomes solid when cold. There are many varieties of catechu 
in commerce, some being used in medicine, as the AcUcia 
catechu, and that made at Singapore by boiling the yoimg leaves 
and shoots of the Uncaria gambiery one of the Eubiacese, a very 
astringent substance containing a large quantity of tannic acid. 
Areca wood is very strong and elastic, and much used for 
making ** pingos.** This tree was imknown to either the 
Greeks or Romans, but is apparently alluded to in Palladius. 

Among the other species found in Ceylon is the Caryota 
horridu of Jloon,^ called ** kattoo kittoo " (thorny palm) by 
the natives, a remarkable variety, found in the forests of the 
central province, which grows to a great height, having the 
stem for six or eight feet from the ground covered with strong 
spines so close to each other as almost to hide the bark. Phoenix 
sylvestrisy a variety of the date-palm (P. dactyUfera), is very 
common in the warmer parts of the island ; the natives eat the 
sweet 2>ulp of the ripe seeds, and make mats and betel boxes of 
the leaves. This is the only variety of Phoenix in Ceylon, but 
they are very numerous in India. 

Calamus — the ratans of commerce, waiwel of the Sin- 
halese, a very singular genus of plants, often exceeding a 
hundred yards in length, some species climbing trees, while 
others run along the groimd. They are covered with scaly 
thorns when young, which fall oflf as the plant arrives at 
maturity, and have no leaves except a bunch at the end ; the 
fruit, with a husk like a gooseberry, grows in clusters. Some 
varieties are found in the central province up to 3000 feet. 
Bumphius says C longisetus in the Archipelago attains a 
length of 1200 feet. In Ceylon this variety is veiy much 
shorter. Calamus rudentum, growing chiefly in the hottest 
parts of the island, is a stout description, the Palma jimcus of 
Biunp., and )delds a reddish gum to which the formidable name 
of ** dragon's blood " has been given. Ratans abound in the 
Archipelago, being turned to innumerable uses by the Malays 
and Chinese, who make rigging for canoes and cables for 

^ Oncosperma fa$eiculatat Thw. 


ships with them; in CeylOn they are universally used for 
bottoms of beds and chairs, and were formerly employed by 
the natives for making suspension bridges, 

Coryphay the talipat or talla-gass of the Sinhalese {Cory- 
phu umhracidifera) is one of the most graceful and majestic of 
trees, shooting up from the earth nearly as straight as an 
arrow to a height often of 90 and 100 feet, with a cluster 
at the top of large leaves exactly like a circular fan opened 
out hanging from a long stalk, the whole surmounted when in 
blossom by a cone of golden-coloured flowei's about fifteen feet 
high. This tree only flowers once and then decays, its 
strength seemingly exhausted in the effort. The bud biusts 
with a repoi-t like that of a gim. Some of the leaves when 
spread out are thirty feet in cu'cumference, and would cover 
eight men, standing together, from the rain. Mats are made from 
them for constnicting temporary dwellings or other purposes, 
and when cut into several pieces are in general use among the 
Kandyans as a protection from rain and sun, closing up into a 
small com2)ass when 2>ut by or carried under the arm. The 
Kandyans attribute some of their victories over the Portuguese 
to tliem, as they kept their flint muskets dry during heavy 
rains, when those of the enemy were so damp they could not 
fire. In the maritime provinces Chinese parasols made of 
varnished paper stretched on bamboo frames are more in use. 

The leaves of the talipat when full-grown are of a deep 
green colour, but when yoimg of a pale straw tint, and are 
then used for writing on and making books ; the young leaves 
of the palmp-a ai-e also used for this puqiose. {Vide ch. xxii.) 
The talipat grows chiefly in waim moist 2>arts of the central 
and southern province. Palm leaves have been always con- 
sidered as an emblem of victoiy, and were carried by pilgrims 
in ancient times, hence called " pahners.*' It is curious that 
Columbus found them in use as a sign of rejoicing among the 
Aborigines of South America.^ 

The Palmyra, — The trees of the palm family, in consequence 
of their great usefulness to mankind, have been so often 
described it is diflScult to write anything about them that has 

* Prescott ; Levit, xxiii. 40 ; Matt., xxL 8. 


not been many times repeated. One of the best descriptions 
of the pabnyra is Mr. W. Ferguson's, of the Surveyor General's 
Department, Ceylon, published at Colombo in 1850. Eum- 
phius has also given an account of them, both in the Ai'chipelago 
and Ceylon. 

The Borassxis flabclliformis, " tal-gass " of the Sinhalese, 
is the chief feature in the landscape about JaflEha and the ex- 
treme north, upwards of 6,000,000 of €hem growing there ; they 
ai-e the main stay of the population, furnishing a fourth part of 
theii' food, being almost equal in value to the cocoa-nut, every 
part of the plant serving some useful purpose. The groves 
of tall unbending palmyras which cover the flat peninsula of 
Jaflha give the scenery a singular aspect of tameness and 
monotony, very inferior in beauty to the cocoa-nnt of the 
south, whose irregular growth — some bending one way, some 
another — ^produces such picturesque effect. ** During the fruit 
season, when the fires of the watches at night reveal by fitful 
gleams the thousands of stems, these palmyra groves resemble 
the columns of a temple." ^ 

Generally before the fruit ripens j^eriodical showers are ex- 
pected at Jaffna, called palmyra rains. Elephants cross over 
at this season from the main land at " elephant pass," and 
spread over the peninsula to eat the ripe fruit when it falls, 
and also pull down the young trees for the sake of their tender 
leaves. Palmyras can grow much closer to each other than 
the cocoa-nut without great injury to their produce. In some 
of the groves about Jaffna, where they are in a half-wild state, 
they stand so close together the sky can barely be seen through 
their leaves, but such crowding is injurious ; about 200 trees 
per acre, or more than double the allowance for cocoa-nuts, 
is the utmost an acre can bear and yield a good crop. It is 
said the Dutch, by clearing away the jungle from the stems, 
brought the trees into bearing much earlier than when the 
underwood had been permitted to exclude light and air. 

The curious union which takes place between the palmyra 
and the banyan is the most singular development of tropical 
vegetation. The banyan in its infancy is a parasitical plant 

' Ferguson. 


living on another, the seeds carried and dropped by birds, 
taking root in the moist receptacles at the base of the palmyra 
leaves, speedily throw down long shoots until they reach the 
ground, ultimately developing into a new tree round the palm 
which nourished it. One of the curiosities of Jaffna some years 
since was a banyan which had thus enclosed three palmyras 
in its coils, affording an extensive shade under their united 

Occasionally the palmyra forms a branching head, the 
stem near the top dividing into several portions, each like a 
diminutive tree. Similai* instances occur among palms in 
India, where the variety called by the Arabs the doom, bifur- 
cates in this way. The doom-palm of Egypt (Hyphane 
thebaica) has always a dichotomous stem. The same thing 
occurs, though rarely, among cocoa-nuts and areca. 

The palmyra in Ceylon attains a height averaging seventy or 
eighty feet, always growing perfectly upright, unless some 
accident causes a deviation ; the stem is rather thick, ending in 
a heavy head of fan-like leaves, smaller than the talipat, and 
large clusters of rich yellow-brown fruit, each the size of a 
cocoa-nut, but rounder. Six or seven of these clusters, with 
from ten to twenty fruit on each, and weighing between thirty 
and forty pounds, are found on a tree. The fruit is covered 
with an exceedingly hard and tough skin that requires to be 
torn off in pieces. The Tamils say an elephant could not 
break one, and contains three seeds or kernels surrounded by 
fibres resembling coir, mixed with a yellow farinaceous pulp, 
sweet and oily, made into cakes called poonatoo by soaking it 
in fresh water, after which the jelly-like portion is squeezed 
out and spread on mats in the sun to dry, then put into 
baskets made of palm leaves and smoked. The natives make 
curries and various dishes of it, but it is unpalatable to Euro- 
peans. The kernels are eaten raw and also roasted. Numbers 
of the fruit are pulled by the natives before they are ripe, when 
they cut the top off and eat the pulp inside, which in this state 
is delicious, but considered dangerous, as it causes dysentery. 

A kind of vegetable called kalingo is obtained from the 
kernels when planted for the purpose, and left in the earth 


until they have sprouted and grown the size and shape of a par- 
snip, but nearly white, with three or four rootlets at the larger 
end. Kalingos are eaten fresh, and also dried in the sun after 
the parchment-like skin has been removed, when they are 
called odials. Various dishes and a farina superior to arrow- 
root are made from them, much used by the natives in Ceylon 
and Southern India. 

Bumphius remarks that the "male tree is like the female in 
every respect and always grows close to it, dififenng only in not 
producing fruit." The nature of the trees cannot be distin- 
guished until they bear, and the young plants are allowed to 
grow together till then, when most of the male trees are re- 
moved, leaving one here and there. When young, the trunks 
are covered with leaves growing round them in a spiral manner, 
and festooned with climbing plants and yoimg banyans ; as the 
trees attain age the lower leaves gradually fall off, leaving a 
portion attached to the stem, giving it a rugged appearance, 
and at maturity none remain but those that form the head. 
They begin to yield fruit at from fifteen to thirty years, accord- 
ing to situation, and last for 200 years. The palmyra at all 
ages is a favourite resort of insects, birds, squirrels, and 
monkeys, who eat holes in tlie fruit and throw down numbers 
when leaping fi'om tree to tree. 

The timber is very valuable and extensively used for rafters 
and laths of houses, being the only kind that resists the 
attacks of white ants, besides from the structure of its fibres 
it splits easily in the direction of its length, just suiting the 
purposes for which it is used, and supports a greater cross 
strain than any other wood, but nails rust rapidly in it. The 
Tamils say " it lasts for a lac of years," and it has a density of 
sixty-five pounds to a cubic foot. The external part of the old 
trees alone yields firm black timber, the interior like the cocoa- 
nut being pale, soft and spongy, and young trees are nearly 
white, the wood is not considered of the best quaUty until the 
tree is 100 years old, the older the tree the harder and blacker 
the timber ; that from the female tree is the best, being three 
times the price of the male, which is often steeped in salt 
water to increase its weight and deepen the colour. A single 


tree will only make from three to five rafters, valued 
8«. to 68. ; the wood is also used for making omameDtal t 
as small boxes, rulers, and paper knives. Jaffna timber 
superior to that of the Indian palmyra, and is exported i 
quantities to the Coromandel coast, 70,000 or 80,000 tree 
annually used for home consumptiou and export. The 
and jagery exported has been valued at ^10,000 per am 

The internal part of the trunk is turned into a coar: 
of farina with a sweetish taste, and used to attract 
when strewn in the jungles, the shells of the nuts and fi 
used by blacksmiths for charcoal, said to give a greater t 
of heat than any other, and the leaves make tbat«hi 
houses, fences, mats, baskets for holding water, he 

The chief produce of the palmyra is the coarse sugai 
jageiy, made from the toddy, and numbers of coolies ei 
from India at the season of drawing what may be cal] 
toddy harvest. The liquid is extracted from the flov 
in the same manner as from the cocoa-nut palm, describe 
after, and boiled when fresh witli lime untU sufficiently 
when tlie liquid is poured into saucers, or moulds in 
palmyra leaves, and left to cool, when it becomes ht 
looks like a cake of chocolate ; two cakes thus fonr 
placed with their flat sides together, and wrapped up i 
or cocoa-nut leaves. About three quails of toddy are ri 
to make a pound of sugar. The flower buds begin to s 
November and December, as the palmjTa, imlike the coc 
blossoms only once in a year ; about a week after the but 
the juice begins to flow, some trees giving six pints a 
wai-ds in twenty-four hours, and continues running for 
five months, gradually getting less until it ceases. 
three yeai's the flower bud is not tapped, but allowed ti 
fruit which ripen in July or August, as it is foimd drawi 
liquid from the trees every yeai* in succession injures 
Palmyi-a toddy is excessively sweet and luscious, much n 
than that from the cocoa-nut, and is only drunk when th 
cannot be obtained. The half-boiled juice, which res 
molasses, ia sold at a very cheap rate in the bazaars, and 


quantity of jager}'' was exported to India, said to be refined at 
Madras and sent to Europe,^ but it cannot comj^ete with cane 
sugar, being very little, if anything, cheaper in the island than 
brown sugar in Euroj^e. 

Flying foxes frequent palm trees during toddy drawing to 
drink the liquid, some say the palm cat (P. typhus) , and one 
of the shrikes, {A.fuscus) called the toddy bird also, but it is 
doubtful if the two latter do so ; the palm cat more probably is 
in quest of the birds who prey on the swarms of insects 
attracted by the sweet liquid. 

Rumphius says "it is truly remarkable that the two prin- 
cipal palms of India, the cocoa and the palmyra, will not grow 
in the same neighbourhood, nor even in the same region, which 
must be attributed to the great wisdom of the Creator, who is 
unwilling that these trees so productive and beneficial to 
mankind should grow in the same locality. We see that in all 
the western parts of Hindustan and Ceylon the cocoa-nut 
grows vigorously and abundantly, but there we never or 
rarely see a palmyra; on the other hand, in the east of Ceylon 
and the Coromandel coast, the palmyra predominates, and the 
cocoa-nut is rare." 

There is some truth in this quaint tlieoiy, although it 
does not prevail to the extent indicated. Cocoa-nuts do grow 
about Jafiha, but their peld is very inferior to that on the 
southern coast, and to the produce of the palmyra side by side. 
Some years since, when there was a rage for cocoa-nut planting 
in Ceylon, many palmyras were cut down to make way for their 
rivals, and several other plantations were fonned, but it was 
found in the majority of cases that the cocoa-nut trees failed 
to come to maturity at the expected time. The venture only 
returning in some cases from £2 to £2 10«. per acre. The 
palmyra flourishes over a wide geographical area in the east, 
extending from Arabia to Amboyna, and along the eastern coast 
of Afiica. 

The Caryota Ureas, " kittool '* of the Sinhalese, is a variety 
which flourishes in woody mountains, found in the southern 
and central parts up to an elevation of 2,000 feet, generally 

* Tennent 


in native gardens. The flower buds jdeld toddy in abundance, 
from which coarse sugar is made, the wood forms rafters 
similar to those of Ja&a, and the pith a coarse kind of sago; 
the black fibres of the leaf stalks are made by the Rodillas into 
ropes of great strength resembling horse-hair, also fish-lines 
impervious to water, but liable to break if suddenly bent or 

Tlie cocoa-nut palm ' is one of the most beautiful, and also 
the most useful object in nature, its tall and slender stem, 
from seventy to eighty feet high, surmounted by gracefril 
plume-like leaves, presenting a very striking appearance; it is a 
common saying among the natives that it can be turned into a 
hundred different uses ; this tree is alone sufficient to build, rig 
and freight the small Maldive vessels which visit the island. 
It produces wine, water, oil, sugar, spirits, ^'inegar and milk, a 
species of sago analogous to that obtained from the sago palm 
{Sagus Uevis) of the Archipelago is obtained from the pith of the 
trunk near the head, and a vegetable like cabbage from the 
young buds, when boiled; the old leaves make huts to live 
in, fences, and baskets, while the young leaves, being yellow 
and transparent, make pretty lanterns and decorations, the 
nut-shells make drinking- cups, spoons, ladles, and charcoal to 
cook food. Capital brooms are made from the fibres of the 
leaves, the butt ends of the stalks make paddles for rowing 
canoes, and the fibres of the husks make ropes, twine, mats, 
carpets and mattresses. 

Various medicinal properties are attributed by the Sinhalese 
to the cocoa-nut tree; they extract a powerful oil from the 
bark, used in cutaneous diseases, the juice of the flower makes 
a very astringent lotion similar to alum, a decoction of the 
root is given in fevers, and the juice of the leaves mixed 
with some of the oil is used for ophthalmia ; cocoa-nut oil is 
the best remedy for the stings of insects, and said to be used 
by chemists in Europe for making unguents. 

* Ondatjee, "Vegetable Products of Ceylon ;" Royle, Madras Ezliib., 1865. 

' Rumphios, who gives an elaborate description of the cocoa-nut under the 
name of "Palma Indica migor/' has enumerated a great many species^ which 
modem botanists have reduced to three^ — C, nuci/era, the most widely <^iflfaiwd ; 
C. JUauosa^ tmd C, plumoaa of BrazlL 


The Iruitfulness of the cocoa-nut pahn is extraordinary, as 
long as the tree lives it bears without intermission, the blossom 
and full-grown nut being seen on it all the year round, pre- 
senting to view from forty to fifty nuts on an average, in 
different stages of growth, hanging in separate clusters, of which 
there are from seven to ten, each tree producing annually on 
an average forty nuts, nearly a year being required to bring 
them to the germinating state. They begin to bear about their 
seventh year, are in full bearing at twelve, in their prime at 
thirty, and last for seventy or eighty years. 

The trunk is composed of hard and flexible longitudinal 
dark fibres, imited by a brown cellular substance, capable of 
being made into a powder. The outer part of old trees is used 
for rafters, spear handles, rulers, and other fancy articles. It 
is known in commerce as porcupine wood. Cocoa-nut stems 
are so seldom straight, a Tamil proverb says, " that a person 
who has seen a straight cocoa-nut tree, a paddy bird's nest, 
a dead monkey, or a white crow, will never die." 

The plaited leaves are called cajans, a Malay term. About 
six feet of the middle of the leaf is cut off when green, and the 
feathery part torn from the stalk; they are then soaked in water 
for a few weeks, when they become a deep brown colour, 
and plaited into a kind of mat about two feet wide, the ends of 
the leaves forming a fringe on one side, and the stalk a thin 
lath on the other, making a very light and durable thatch, and 
entire huts when tied to a wooden frame, also garden fences ; 
they are exported to Northern India. 

The following curious calculation regarding the cocoa-nut 
was made in the " Colombo Observer," December, 1858. " In 
1840, 400,000 gallons of oil were exported, worth £26,000, in- 
creased in 1857 to 1,767,413 gaUons, worth £212,184 ; forty 
niits being required to make a gallon of oil, 70,696,520 would 
be necessary for the oil exported, as much more being probably 
consumed in the island, this would make 141,393,040 nuts for 
oil alone, the produce of 3,534,826 trees at an average annual 
yield of forty nuts per tree. 5,000,000 of trees are required 
for toddy drawing, making 8,534,826 for oil and toddy, but as 
it is supposed there are 20,000,000 of trees in the island, there 



remain nearly 11,500,000, producing 460,000,000 of nuts for 
other purposes, many millions being exported or made into 
copera." The number of trees seems to have been rather over 
estimated, judging by recent agricultural returns. (Vide eh. v.) 

Oil is extracted from the dried kernels of the nut by pressure 
in mills of various sorts, the native contrivances for this purpose 
being of the rudest description turned by oxen ; and there is 
an extensive steam factory belonging to Europeans at Hilts- 
dorf near Colombo. After the kernels are removed from the 
shells previous to the oil being extracted, they are dried in 
various ways, being usually spread on slight wooden frames. 
Cocoa-nut oil is only liquid at a high temperature of the air, 
such as prevails where the tree grows, when it is of a bright 
amber coloui', and coagulates at from 70° to 75° Fahr. Enor- 
mous quantities are used in England for making stearine 
candles. Cocoa-nut oil when newly made is used for cooking 
by the natives, but it rapidly assumes a very disagreeable flavour 
and odour ; it is composed of cocoa-stearic acid, and oleine. 

The cake, called poonack, left after the oil is extracted, is 
used for feeding poultry, and also exported to Europe. The 
keniels when dried for exportation ai'e called copera, a word 
derived from tlie Hindu "khopera." It is found that the nuts 
yield most oil when pulled before they are quite ripe. 

In 1867 tlie quantity of Oil exported was — 

To England 100,114 cwt. 

To India 6,462 „ 

Other countries .... 1,543 „ 

Valued at £134,540. 

Total . 108,119 

The Copera exported was — 

To England 17,370 cwt. 

Other countries 5,923 ,, 

Valued at £18,981. 

Total . 23,302 » „ 

Coir is a fibrous substance that surrounds the nut-shell, lying 
between it and a thin outer skin, forming a kind of packing, 
and making the whole very light in proportion to its bulk. 

1 Sessional Papers, 1868-9, bdii ; 1871, Ixiii, 


Some writers suppose it is so arranged in order that the nut 
may float on the waves and be thus disseminated among ocean 
islands ; but another and more probable reason why it is so 
formed has not been noticed, namely, in order to prevent the 
nut-shell bursting in its fall from the tree, very likely to happen 
without this protection, being large and heavy, usually flying off 
with a reboimd when it reaches the earth ; however, it is 
admirably arranged for either purpose. 

The greenish, half-ripe nuts produce the best coir, the fibre 
in the old ones being brittle and hard. Coir is prepared by 
soaking the husks in water or damp pits for some time, after 
which they are washed and beaten with heavy wooden mallets 
to separate the fibres from a cellular substance that surroimds 
them, and then dried in the sim. At Calpentyn and other 
places the husks are buried in the margin of salt lakes and 
marshes, where they are left several months, being dug out 
clean and in better condition than when steeped in fresh water, 
which not onl}*^ injures the coir, but causes an unpleasant 
efiluvia, and is considered very unwholesome. The number 
of nuts required for one pound of coir varies from three to seven. 

Coir ropes and cables are very light, almost floating on the 
water, and exceedingly elastic, but more durable in salt water 
and warm climates than in fresh or very cold climates, when 
they are apt to break suddenly. Besides the immense quanti- 
ties consumed in the island for rope making and other pur- 
poses, more than 2000 tons are annually exported to England 
and India. 

In 1867 the Exports of both were — 

To England 41,077 cwt. 

To India 5,234 „ 

Other countiies . . . . 8,080 ,, 

Valued at £38,842. 49,391 

Toddy is obtained from the long flower bud (which is en- 
closed in a sheath) by tying it soon after it appears in three 
places to prevent its expanding and the point cut off; it is then 
beaten with a hard wooden mallet to crush the flowers inside 
and promote a flow of sap, bent downwards and fixed in that 

Y 2 


position. After a few days a round earthen vessel is susx>ended 
underneath to catch the liquid as it drops from the bud^ a thin 
slice being cut off the point every day. A good tree will yidd 
from four pints daily ; after a few months the drawing is stopped, 
as it exhausts the tree very much. 

The best time to drink toddy is early in the morning, being, 
then less intoxicating and more agreeable than when stale, is 
it ferments rapidly, three hours being sufficient to set it goings 
and after a day or two is quite unwholesome. Both Suropean 
soldiers and natives who drink it in this state become very drank 
and troublesome under its influence. The evil effects are much 
increased by the addition of drugs, both the toddy and arrack 
sold in the bazaars being adulterated with datura and bang, or 
hemp seeds, opium, nux-vomica, fabia amara, and cocculas. 
In 1872 a law was passed imposing a fine of five rupees on 
dinmkenness, and fifty rupees for adulterating toddy and 
arrack. In India this drugged stuff is called " Pariah arracL" 

The taste of toddy is peculiar and difficult to define ; it has 
been compared to champagne, cider, or milk, and recommended 
by Rumphius for consimiptive patients ; but it is very doubtfol 
a doctor in the island would think of recqiomending it for 
anything. The Enghsh term toddy is supposed to be derived 
from Tari, the Tamil and Hindu name for the juice of the 
palmyra palm. The Sinhalese call it mee-ra and suri, firom 
tlie Sanskrit for palm wine. The word Shecliar, so often re- 
curring in the Talmud, generally translated as strong drink, 
and once in Numbers (xxviii. 7) as strong wine, means in 
reality the sweet liquid drawn from some of the palms, and 
was Very probably drugged by the Jews, the adulteration of 
liquids to increase their intoxicating power being quite an 
Eastern habit. Ralph Fitch and other travellers mention that 
the Persians put dried raisins into palm wine to make it 
stronger ; and Linschoten describes a compound of raisins and 
arrack made at Goa *' as excellent an aqua vitae as any from 

Toddy is drawn and cocoa-nuts gathered by men who form 
a distinct caste : they are often a drunken race, given to in- 
dulgence in the Uquid, usually receiving a little of it and of 


the nuts instead of a money pa3rment. Their implements are 
a wooden mallet, a knife, and a chattie, suspended from the 
Waist. When mounting palmyra trees, whose trunks are very 
rough, they wear a piece of leather on their breasts to protect 
them, which is not required for the smoother cocoa-nut. Before 
they climb their ankles are tied together with a band of leaves 
or a rope, leaving a few inches interval between them, which, 
catching the projections on the trunk of the tree, formed by 
the leaves as they fall off, sustains the man while he raises his 
arms and clasps the tree to draw himself up a short space. 
When a number of trees are growing close to each other they 
are connected by ropes at the top, and the men pass by them 
from one tree to another ; it is rather a dangerous emplo^onent 
as they sometimes fall, six deaths being recorded from this 
cause in one year. Pliny describes the climbing of date and 
palmyra trees (lib. xiii.). The cocoa-nut was unknown to him. 

Toddy is used for leavening bread, there being nothing better 
for this purpose ; it also makes very good vinegar, and when 
distilled yields the white spirit called arrack, and jagery is 
made from it by boiling in the same manner as from the pal- 
mjrra. Cocoa-nut toddy is not so rich in saccharine matter, but 
is better suited for distilling. One-third part of rice and some 
sugar is usually mixed with it. Newhoff says the Dutch added 
oil of cloves. The export of arrack from Ceylon has greatly 
increased of late years, amounting in 1867 to 90,158 gallons, 
valued at £7,574.^ Three kinds are known in commerce — 
Goa, Batavia, and Colombo. 

It has been suggested that sugar made from the cocoa and 
palmyra palm would be a profitable speculation, jagery, when 
refined, yielding sixty per cent, of a fine-grained sugar superior 
to that of the cane. Others say this is a mistake, for although 
a native proprietor of a few palm trees can make jagery in his 
household at a very cheap rate, it could not be manufactured 
by a European planter for less than double the price, and that 
it would be dearer than cane-sugar. Drawing the liquid from 
the trees is a tedious and rather expensive process by hired 
laboitr, as a man cannot draw more than twenty trees in a day. 

1 Sesnonal Pftpen, 1868-9, Ixiil 


The large importation of cane-sugar from India and 
Mauritius shows that jagery cannot compete with it. In 1' 
12,294 cwt. of imrefined sugar, valued at JglS^SOS, and i 
cwt. refined, valued £8249, subject to import duties of 2f. 
and 5«. per cwt., were imported into Ceylon. 

When pulled before they are quite ripe the kernel of 
cocoa-nut is soft and like blanc mange, but rather insi 
and eaten with a spoon. There is also a quantity of 
agreeable liquid containing 95 per cent, of water, the 
mainder being mucilage, glycine, albumen, and oil. 'V^ 
quite ripe it has a hard astringent taste and is much les 
quantity ; at a further stage of maturity the fluid disapp< 
and the hollow is filled by a round interior kernel, whic 
the germinating organ, the nut is then of little use for 
purpose but planting. 

Nuts are husked by driving a strong stake of wood into 
ground, leaving a couple of feet projecting above it, whic 
then pointed, a man taking a nut in both hands drives 
stake into it, then bending it sideways, the husk is torn of 

In 1842 only 550 nuts were exported from the island, 
now they exceed four millions and a half, chiefly to India. 

In 1867 the number exported was — 

To England 46,150 

To India 4,348,866 

Other places 173,865 


Valued at £13,646, or about £3 per 1000. 

The cocoa-nut appears to have been unknown to the Gre^ 
and Bomans. Marco Polo and other mediseval travellers cal 
Niices indica, by which name it was then generally known 
Europe. The modem cocoa is supposed to be derived fin 
the Latin cocus (a shell). The Sinhalese call it "Pol," 1 
Hindus and Persians " nargil," from the Sanscrit " narakel 
and the Arabs " jouz Hindi." The Sinhalese profess to c 
tinguish several varieties, only one of which is discernible 
the eye of a stranger, the " king cocoa-nut," as they name 


which is much smaller than the others and of a bright orange- 
brown, but it is not so good a uut as the ordinary one. 

A variety of the cocoa-nut palm (Lodoicea SeycheUanm), 
which grows only in the island of Praslin^ one of the 
Seychelles, produces the wonderful double nut formerly 
known as the *' Maldive-nut/' from the circumstance of its 
being carried by the waves and thrown on their shores. 
Before the discovery of the Seychelles, in 1759, people in 
ignorance of where they came from, thought them a produce 
of the sea, and that they grew under the water, hence one of 
their names. Coco de mer — ^it was also named Coco de Solomon, 
and the Nux medica, from its supposed medicinal properties, 
being deemed a sovereign remedy for flux, apoplexy, scurvy, 
poison, &c., and in consequence of their rareness, being only 
occasionally picked up on the Maldives. The most extrava- 
gant prices were demanded for them, Eodolph the Second 
offered 4000 florins for one and could not obtain it. The 
Abb^ Bochon, who travelled in Madagascar in 1768, says in 
the year the Seychelles were discovered they were sold for £400 
each.^ Linschoten (1584), remarks ''the maldive-nuts are 
good against all poisons, and cost 800 pardawen ; one was 
sent to the king of Spain." ^ Ibn Batuta, who was in the 
Maldives (a.d. 1844) says, the chief revenue of the Sultan 
was derived from the sale of nuts and other objects thrown 
on his shores, which were jealously guarded. 

The tree on which this remarkably shaped nut grows is a 
fan-leaved palm, about fifty feet high ; the nuts are of an im- 
mense size and dark colour, holding from six to eight pints of 
liquid, but their flavour or other properties are in no way 
different from the ordinary nut. Thunberg mentions that one 
was growing as an exotic in the Governor's garden at Grand 
Pass, Colombo, and some attempts have been recently made 
to introduce the plant into the island. 

Cocoa-nut planting. — The prolific yield of the cocoa-nut 
tree, and the increasing demand in Europe for the oil, has 
induced some capitalists to embark in their cultivation, and 
many thousands of acres have been planted by them. Batta- 

» Pinkerton, Coll Voy., xtL 807. * Trarek, p. 28. 


caloa is one of the best parts of the island for the pmpese, 
here they obtain what they require, a sandy soil saturated by 
salt water, at no great depth from the surface, a high temp^ 
rature, and a moist saline atmosphere. Since 1882, whei the 
first European plantations were made there, the sand-Vanla 
which border the lagoons have been covered hy cocca-nul 
trees, '' said to produce the finest and most numerous nats in 
Ceylon." ^ 

An acre of cocoa-nut trees produces on an average from 
four to five thousand nuts per annum, worth from dE12 to £15, 
at about £3 per 1000, and several calculations have heen made 
of the profits from cocoa-nut plantations, which have proved 
rather fallacious, as experience shows the plants require much 
care in their infancy, and have a great enemy in the shape of 
a beetle (Oryctes rhinoceros), who eat their way through the 
trunks, destroying from one-tenth to a quarter of plants annu- 
ally, which require to be continually renewed. (Vide ch. xxvii.) 
The most effectual remedy that has yet been discovered is to 
catch the larva with a small barbed spear thrust into the 
holes they bore in the trees. The plantations also require to 
be guarded against wild pigs, porcupines, rats, and elephants, 
who are very fond of the young leaves. 

The number of trees planted on each acre has been vari- 
ously estimated at from fifty to seventy-five and one hundred. 
The Dutch made some calculations in 1740, which show that 
from forty to fifty roods of ground on the coast between Cal- 
tura and Colombo, where they are very close, contained 1000 
trees, which would make 80 per acre.^ The nuts are first 
planted in a nursery, being placed in squares of several hun- 
dreds, and then covered with a layer of sand or mud, mixed with 
sea-weed if possible, and watered daily until they sprout ; in 
five or six months they are fit for transplanting, being then 
placed in holes, fiUed with sea-weed or sand mixed with salt, 
from twenty to thirty feet apart, according to the locality. Too 
much crowding is. injurious. They require constant watering 

* Texment. 
> * Ytn IxDlioff*8 Report in Lee's App. to Ribeyro, p. 171 ; Simxnona, Colonial 


and shading from the son for two or three years, and an 
occasional application of salt or other niannre until the flower 

In some native plantations where the trees are left to take 
care of themselves, the period of flowering is much later than 
on those of the Europeans, who find that hy the application 
of manure, sucli as fish, ashes, saline mud, and oil-cake, they 
can be made to flower about their fifth or sixth year, likewise 
the produce of nuts can be more than doubled by the same 



It is a strange circumstance that Ceylon, which De Barros 
calls "the mother of cinnamon," and has been considered among 
moderns as pre-eminently "the cinnamon isle," should not 
have been once mentioned by ancient authors as producing this 
delightful spice, which, Galen says, was a " fitting present for 
kings and emperors." Most writers, including Theophrastus, 
" Periplus," and Cosmas, describing it as a product of Arabia 
or Ethiopia. Dr. Vincent, in his " Commerce of the Ancients," 
says " he could find no allusion to Ceylon cinnamon among the 
authors of antiquity, imless Dionysius was referring to it in his 
poem on the Eiythrean Sea, when he says : — 

" At ayes ab alia parte, de insulis desertis. 
Adyenenmt affercntcs integri cinuamomi folia." — ^ver. 940. 

Eustathius, Archbishop of Thessalonica (a.d. 1198), the poet's 
learned conmientator, seems to have thought the spice came 
from Arabia, having no idea it was a produce of Ceylon. 

It is supposed that oriental spices must have been imported 
into Egypt at a very early period to be used in embalming 
mummies. In Exodus, ch. xxx. 28 — 24, cinnamon and cassia 
are mentioned in such quantities that they could not have been 
vary rare or difficult to obtain, and the quantity of cinnamon 
used at Poppaea's funeral by Nero, proves it was plentiful at 
Home also. Galen says cinnamon and cassia were so much 
alike it was not easy to distinguish them. The spice as known 
to him appears from his description to have been small sticks 
with the bark on.^ Cinnamon is not mentioned by Homer, 


^ Lib. xiv. 515. 


although named in the Bible long before his time — ^in Exodus 
XXX. 28y in Proverbs vii. 7, and in the Canticles iv. 14. The 
terms used in the Talmud for cinnamon and cassia, '' khenoh " 
and " hiddahy' both seem to be derived from the pipe-like form 
of the spice. 

The Arabians informed Herodotus^ that they obtained cin- 
namon in marshes guarded by winged serpents, and in the 
nests of birds. He says the birds made their nests of cinnamon 
sticks fastened together with mud, and that the Arabians did 
not know where the sticks came from. It is supposed, with 
great probability, that the Arabians invented these fables in 
order to prevent travellers and others from finding out where 
they obtained the spice, and thus spoil their trade. Pliny 
dismisses the story of Herodotus and gives one of his own : 
according to him cinnamon did not grow in Arabia, but came 
from Ethiopia, the bark being brought with great difficulty 
across the sea by vessels sailing about the time of the equinoxes, 
when a S.E. wind blew. It was never gathered without the 
permission of a god, supposed to be Jupiter. The Ethiopians 
sacrificed foi*ty-four oxen and goats for leave to cut it, but 
after all they were only allowed to work before sunrise." 
(xii. 42.) 

Eratosthenes, librarian of Alexandria (b.c. 194), Hippar- 
chus, and Ptolemy place the cinnamon region in the north- 
eastern comer of Africa or Gape Guardafrd. Strabo draws a 
fancifrd parallel to indicate the *' Regio cinnamomifera," or 
coimtries where the spice was supposed to grow, passing on 
one side a little to the south of Taprobanc, and at the other 
across Lybia. This author, quoting Aristobulus, says "the 
meridional part of India produced cinnamon and all the spices 
of Arabia, and, according to some, the greatest part of the 
cassia came from India.'' ^ 

" Periplus," which describes ten kinds of cinnamon known 
to commerce at that time, mentions that cassia was obtained 

> L. 3, iii 205. 

' Lib. iL 80, 182 ; lib. zv. 694 ; the Geog. Diet of La Martinere, Amsterdam, 
1780, and the French translator of Ribeyro, both say Strabo states Ceylon 
" porte beanconp de canelle," probably on the strength of the abore statement 


in large quantities at Mosyllon, the centre of the African 
trade, and also a finer kind of cinnamon. Mr. Cooley traces 
the name of Cape Guardafiii to Kardufan, an Arabian term 
for the spice, and contends that the cinnamon brought to 
Europe by the Arabs came principally from the north-eastern 
part of Africa.^ Bruce, the African traveller, says cassia grows 
plentifully on this Cape, but botanists say African cassia has 
very little aroma,* and it seems to be very doubtful that true 
cinnamon ever grew there. According to Garcia da Orta 
(i. XV.) the Portuguese could find no trace of either cinnamon 
or cassia in Ethiopia or Arabia when they were there in the 
sixteenth century. The African spice trade is supposed to 
have declined about tlie sixth century with the decay of the 
Boman Empire. 

Maixus Aurelius is said to have had at Bome a cinnamon 
plant seven feet high which was brought as a great rarity 
from Barbaria on the eastern coast of Africa according to some 
commentators, and from Barbake in India according to others. 
With a few exceptions mediaeval writers and travellers are also 
silent about Ceylon cinnamon. Sir W. Ousley, quoting a 
manuscript Persian dictionary called " Berhan Katta," which 
has, Sailan the well-known region from which is brought the 
fine cinnamon, says, '' it has been doubted from the silence of 
Pliny, Ptolemy, Dioscorides, and other early writers, whether 
cinnamon, which in the dictionary quoted seems particularly 
indicated as a staple commodity of Ceylon, was known among 
its ancient products. The Persian name Dar-chini bespeaks 
a different origin, but according to Texiera it was called 
Dar-chini Seylani, merely to describe it as a substance ex- 
ported from Ceylon by the Chinese. It would be interesting 
to know how long the spicy bark has bonie the name of 
' Chinese wood * which is mentioned in Makktari, a Persian 
poet of the eleventh century. I cannot recollect any passage 
wherein this spice is named by writers of the eighth, ninth, 
and tenth centuries." ' Mas'udi (a.d. 915) enumerates thirty 

> Begio Cinn., p. 14 ; J. G. S., xiz., 1849. 
« Trav. i. 381. 
» Trav. i. 40, 41. 


aromatic plants said to have sprang up in India from the leaves 
which covered Adam's body when he was cast out of Paradise^ 
but cinnamon is not one of them. 

The Greek kinnamon and the Latin cinnamomum, Theo- 
phrastus says, came from the Phoenicians, who are supposed by 
Dr. Marshall^ to have derived the term from two Malay words 
Kaya mania or Kulit inania, meaning sweet wood ; but Mr. 
Cooley says the only consistent derivation of the wood cinna- 
mon is chin or Chinese amomum, an etymology preferred by 
Garcia and other Portuguese writers. The Arabian, Persian, 
Armenian, and some of the Indian names for the bark, such 
as dar-chini and dar-sini, are also said to be of Chinese origin. 
Nees von Esenbeck says the Arabians distinguish two kinds 
of spice, the fine being named kardufan or kardu, and a common 
sort called dar-sini.^ It is a question whether these names are 
not in reality derived from the Sanskrit " daru-aita,** meaning 
literally a stick of cinnamon or cinnamon wood, which, as well 
as tamala patra, another name for one of the aromatic laurels. 
The Tamil karua, and the Sinhalese kurundu, seem to be 
aboriginal terms, several species of inferior cinnamon being 
indigenous in western India. The Chinese themselves caU 
cassia " kwei,** and cinnamon "yoke kwei," and "jaw kwei." 
De Couto and other Portuguese writers considered the Chinese 
among the first eastern navigators who traded in cinnamon, 
which they carried from Ceylon to the ports of Arabia and 
Persia.' Cassia grows abimdantly in China, and they probably 
brought it with them, but it is doubtful if real cinnamon i^ 
found there, although Spielman says it grows in Tartary ; and 
is also said to be found on the Shan hills on the Burmah 
frontier* and in Cochin China. There is no mention of it in 
Osbruk's "Flora Sinensis" as belonging to China proper. 

1 Annali of Philos., 1817, x. 

^ "De Ciiinamomio Duiputato," Bonn, p. 8. 

' **E como 08 Chins formam 08 primieros quo navegar&m pelo orientc, tendo 
noticia da canella acnderam muitos *jonco8* aquclla ilha (Ceylon) a carregar 
della, e dalle a levaram aos portos de Persia, e da Arabia donde passou d Europa." 
— Da Asia., dec. v. 1, 50 ; Garcia Da Orta, Aromatics of Ind., lib. i. ch. xr. In 
Bears Fa Hian oil of cinnamon is named as being in use in Ceylon ; but it does 
not appear in Jnlien's version. 

* J. A. S. Beng., 1862, p. 288. 


Khordadba in his " Book of Routes " (vide ch. xi.) says the 
Jews brought cinnamon to Persia from China ; and Mr. Cooley 
surmises that it may have reached India in ancient times over- 
land by Persia, quoting Marino Sanuto, who in the fourteenth 
centuiy speaks of a trade from the side of the Tartars by Bag- 
dad and Tabrez, whence were brought spices of value, but 
weighty articles, such as canella, came overland. 

Kazwini (1275) is the first writer w^ho mentions Ceylon 
cinnamon (vide ch. xi.) ; and the first native notice of a trade 
in this spice occurs about 1406, when the Chalias are stated to 
have been organized by the kings for the purpose of furnishing 
him an annual supply, which Barboso one hundred years after 
mentions he sold to merchants from India. Sir E. Tennent 
says, " although cinnamon is named in several ancient Sanskrit 
works on medicine, and in one called Sinhalem, which implies 
it came from Ceylon, it is rarely mentioned in Sinhalese 

Some have doubted that the cinnamon laurel is indigenous 
in Ceylon. Sir E. Tennent suggested that perhaps it was 
brought to the island along with the cofiee plant by the Arabs 
from Africa ; and D'Herbelot supposed from the absence of 
any allusion to it as a product of Ceylon in oriental geographies 
that it did not grow there formerly, but was introduced by the 
Chinese, accounting for its being called dar-chini ;^ however, 
several kinds grow wild in the island, some being found at an 
elevation of 8000 feet, but yielding an inferior bark, such as 
C. ovalifoliay C. viUosum, C. multiflores, C. perpetuojlores, all 
figured in Wight's " Icones," from specimens procured in the 
jungles by Colonel Walker in 1888. Mr. Thwaites of the 
Botanical Gardens is of opinion " they are only varieties of 
C. Zeylanica,*' although so different in the shape of the leaves. 
Seeds are carried and dropped by birds, who are very fond of 
them, and the number of plants scattered through the S.W, 
jungles increase yearly from this cause. 

According to Crawford, " the true cinnamon plant is not a 
native of any part of the Archipelago nor Cochin China, 

> Bib. Orien., Tennent, i. 603. 


although an inferior species grows in most of the islands, and 
Ceylon cinnamon has latterly been cultivated with some success 
in Java and Malacca/' and it seems to be certain that it is not 
indigenous in any other place than Ceylon. It is not improba- 
ble that if originally introduced from some other country, there 
is something in the air or soil about Colombo that has changed 
its nature, making it a peculiar species ; developing those 
qualities which make the bark obtained from trees growing in 
this neighbourhood superior to all others. Here it obtains 
what it seems to require — a hot damp climate, heat above, and 
plenty of moisture below, the ground being surrounded by 
lagoons and lakes which saturate the sub-soil. 

There are no plants and their produce about which there has 
been so much confusion as the aromatic laurels. Since the 
time of Theophrastus and Pliny cassia and cinnamon have been 
constantly confounded as products of the same tree. To an 
ordinary observer there is very little diflference in the appear- 
ance of cassia and the various cinnamon plants, but when the 
barks are tasted the cassia will be found to be harsh and bitter, 
while cinnamon is sweet and agreeable ; also, on a close ex- 
amination cassia differs in many particulars — the leaves 
are oblong lanceolate, while those of the true cinnamon are 
broad, which is the chief distinguishing feature between it and 
other varieties of the plant. Cassia bark when dried bears a 
strong resemblance to coarse cinnamon, only it is thicker, 
darker, and roiigher, and there is little difference in the amount 
of aroma ; but analysis shows theii* chemical constituents are 
different, cinnamon containing a principle of tannic acid, which 
is not in the other. A decoction of cassia yields a blue colour 
(iodide of starch) on the addition of tincture of iodine, but 
cinnamon does not.^ 

Cassia is not foimd in Ceylon, as often stated, but there is 
a tree called dawl kurundu by the natives, the Litscea zey- 
lanica of Nees von Esenbeck, erroneously called Laurtis cassia 
by Linnaeus. Dr. Wight has shown that no less than three 
species of laurel were included by the great naturalist under 
one name. This tree is more branchy and irregular than other 

^ Pereira, Mat Med. 


varieties of laurel, with shorter and narrower leaves, of a diiH 
green colour and blackish berries, with a very bitter bark, and 
is never cut for spice. Bumphius remarks that trees which 
produce cinnamon, cassia, and clove bark, although so much 
alike, are rarely if ever foimd in the same country. There are 
several sources of cassia bark besides the (7. aromaticum. of 
China, the real Laurvs cassia^ and many varieties of cinnamon 
in dififerent parts of the worjd. Dr. Wight, who gives drawings in 
his " Icones " of fourteen kinds, says, ** there are no fewer than 
four distinct species on the Malabar coast and twice as many 
in the Archipelago, aU remiLrkable for a strong family likeness 
and endowed with aromatic properties." 

Malabar cinnamon, which yields a very coarse and inferior 
bark called " canella grosso"by Di Conti and the Portuguese, 
appears to be almost identical with one of the wild varieties of 
Ceylon. Garcia says Ceylon cinnamon exceeds Malabar in 
value as four to one. TiUicherry or Bombay cinnamon most 
resembles the finer bark of Ceylon, though inferior in quality, 
and is the produce of (7. iners. Buchanan says it grows in 
great profusion at Cochin and other places along the western 
coast, also in Mysore. 

Besides these sources of aromatic bark, there is the clove 
cassia of Brazil {Dicypelliuvi caryophyllatum) and the Nectan- 
d/ra cinnamomioides, which forms large forests at Santa Fe, in 
Mexico, noticed by Pizarro in 1540.^ Sir R. Schomburgk 
foimd a species in 1772 growing on a soil similar to the cinna- 
mon gardens of Colombo, and a variety is found in the Isle of 
France {Oreodaphne cupularis). The dictionary De Trevoux 
mentions a bark firom Madagascar formerly brought to Europe 
resembling cinnamon with a taste of cloves, called canelle girofle 
ou noix de Madagascar ; but it is a question whether it really 
came firom the island, being more probably what is called 
massoy bark in India, a kind of cassia in flat pieces tasting 
like cloves, the bark of C culilawan, Blume, from Amboyna. 

It has been stated by several wiiters that the plantations at 
Marendan near Colombo were formed by Falk, the Dutch 

» Prcscott, ii. 138. 


governor about the year 1766,^ apparently on the authorit}^ of 
a statement in Thunberg, who visited the island in the year 
1777, and says, ** Falk planted some cinnamon seeds in his 
garden at Grand Pass in 1769, with the intention of forming 
an experimental i)lantation there, which being opposed by the 
natives who said planted cinnamon would not answer, they 
came at night and poured hot water on the young seedlings 
which killed them ; but the governor found the trick out, and 
planting some more succeeded in rearing them." Thunberg 
makes no mention of planting at Marendan, or anj^here else 
about Colombo, but speaks of it as having an established re- 
putation for producing the finest cinnamon in Cejlon,^ although 
he says some trees were planted at Sitavacca on the borders of 
the Dutch territory, and a few at Caltm-a and Matura. ** He 
was occupied one day examining the spice sent from the in- 
terior by the King of Kandy, which was generally of a very 
bad quality, acrid and biting, more than half of it being thrown 

** All that was ever done in the gi'ounds about Colombo by 
Falk and the Dutch, was to drain some portions and cleai* awa^' 
the low jungle, so as to admit air and light round the plants ; 
nothing further ai)pears to have been done until the island had 
been in British possession for some years, when large tracts of 
•cinnamon land which had become swamps were cleared and 
<lrained, and vacant places filled uj) with young plants, the 
produce of which rendered cutting cinnamon in the uncleared 
jungle portions about Colombo and Galle no longer necessary. 
There ai)pears little doubt it was tlie abundance of cinnamon 
of the best quality, growing on the light soil of the western 
coast, which induced the Portuguese to settle at Colombo."^ 

Sir E. Tennent remarks, " Long after the arrival of the 
Europeans, cinnamon was only found in the forests of the in- 

* Cooley remarks, **tlie cultivation of cinnamon is not yet a century old." — 
Regio Cinn., p. 15. Vide also Tennent, i. 602. 

' **Le terrain sablonneusc qui longe la cote nommait Marondam produit la 
meilleure cannelle de tout Ceylon." — Trad. Langles, Paris, 1796, ii. 406, 414. 
Garcia says "Ceylon produced live sorts of different quality, all growing witliout 
cultivation."— L i. xv. 

» Capper, J. R. A. S., 1846, 1856. 



tenor, cnt by Chalias, originally weavers, who took to the new 
emx)loyinent, and so difficult of access were the forests that the 
Portuguese only obtained it once in three years, and the supply 
was very small " (i. 602), and in another place he states that 
** the Dutch encouraged the gi'owth of cinnamon near their 
forts in order to render themselves independent of the kings of 
Kandy, harassing the Chalias and even cutting down the trees 
in their dominions, being a favourite mode of annoying the 

Van Goens, the Dutch governor in 1663, only seven years 
after their capture of the island, speaks of the profusion of 
cinnamon at Negumbo, which was the finest in the world,^ 
and it has been seen in Ch. XII., that most of the travellers 
about the time of the Portuguese mention its abundance. Di 
Conti says the sticks when peeled were used as firewood, and 
BaldiBUS that they were burnt in his kitchen at Galle, growing 
along the coast as far as Chilaw. Caesar Frederick, who visited 
Colombo in 1563, represents it as being found among other 
trees on the site of the present plantations ; and Ribeyro gives 
seemingly an exaggerated account of its profusion, forming, he 
saj's, an undei-wood {matos) at Chilaw, and right across the 
country to the frontiers of Uva down to Tanavare. It was so 
luxuriant at Chilaw and the forests so dense, no man could pass 
through tliem on foot ; although this was in the domains of the 
King of Kandy, he states that there were 10,000 hamlets in 
the Portuguese tenitoiy where the spice gi'ew.^ 

The manufacture of cinnamon was originally a monopoly, 
successively in the hands of the native, Portuguese, Dutch, 
and English governments, and during the time of the Dutch 
the plant was jealously guarded. When the British obtained 

^ ** Nigumbo was in de besto caneol landen geleegen — alwaar de allerbeste 
anccl groied van den gtJircUn helenden aardbodem ; ook en zeer gi^ote quan- 
titcit."— Valentyn, v. 149, 166. 

* **Que todas as mais terras de ChilSo cortando parte do Rcino de Candia, c 
fronteiras de Uva, at^ duas legoas adiante Tanavare, todas ellos s5o do canilla,*' lib. 
iii. c. viii. ** Quasi todos as snas terras s&o os matos de canilla, e comprehendem de 
< 'liilHo dnas legoas adiante do pagode de Tanavare, os matos de la sfto tfto fcchados, 
4)ae hum homen nSo he possivel andar por dies hum tiro de pedra.'* — lib. i.^ 
rii. iii., Noticias de Na^des Ultram., vol. v. 


the island, the trade was in a dechning state, and the planta- 
tions about Colombo much neglected; they also found that the 
spice was growing in small patches in many private gardens of 
the Colombo district belonging to natives, no doubt originating 
in the time of the Portuguese, who imposed no restriction on 
them, but the Dutch declaimed these trees the property of their 
company,^ and not only claimed the right to peel the cinnamon, 
but severely punished the proprietor or any person, other than 
the company's servants, if they peeled a stick or destroyed a 
plant. The British inlierited this system, and although its 
rigour was much relaxed, there were continual contentions 
between the government and the native proprietors, who never 
lost an opportunity of rooting up the obnoxious trees grow- 
ing in their gardens, which they were not allowed to peel, the 
government agents being unable to watch so many small pro- 
perties scattered through the j)ro\'ince. In 1833 an order was 
received to abandon the monopoly and gradually dispose of the 
government stock of cinnamon and gardens, a measure con- 
demned as too sudden a change from one system to another. 

For more than 500 years Ceylon supplied nearly the whole 
of the cinnamon used in Europe, but in the early pai*t of this 
century the trade declined in consequence of the increased 
consumption of cassia, and cheaper though inferior cinnamon 
largely introduced into the market from other places. In 1843 
2,470,502 pounds of cassia and coarse cinnamon were exported 
to England from India and the Archipelago at from 80s. to 
105s. per cwt., according to quality, and these cheap barks 
thi'eatened at one time to drive the Ceylon out of the market. 

When the government monopoly was abolished in 1833 a. 
very high export duty of 3s. per pound on all kinds was im- 
posed, considerably exceeding the cost of production; the trade,, 
already declining, burthened with this additional tax, was for a. 
long time in a vely depressed state, and ran a risk of being, 
destroyed when the abolition of the duty in 1845 saved it, and 

* ** By Dutch law, every tree of cinnamon which grew even by chance on private 
property became confiscated to the State ; if tbe'proprietor destroyed it he became 
liable to capital punishment."— Letter of Mr. North, Wellesley MS., Brit. Mus.» 
No. 13,865. 

z t 


led to a revival, being now again in a fair way. The duty 
had been i)reviou8ly reduced in 1837 to 2s. 6d., in 1841 to 2s., 
and again to Is. 

The competition with other countries, and reduction of 
I)rice, has caused less care to be taken of late j^ears in prepar- 
ing the finer qualities of bark for exportation in Ceylon, old 
and coarse shoots being peeled in a larger proportion ; conse- 
quently although the total quantity exported has greatly in- 
creased, the quahty has deteriorated so much, there is now no 
cinnamon to be had equal to that obtained formerly, and people 
have been gi'adually induced to be satisfied with a cheap sub- 
stitute. This coarse cinnamon is now produced in such quan- 
tities that cassia is being driven out of the market by it in 
turn, in 1866 the import of cassia to England having fallen 
ofi" to 349,000 pounds at £3 4s. 7d. per cwt. 

According to the " Eei)orts of the Juries Exhibition of 
1851," Ceylon cinnamon is superior to all others; it sa^^s, " this 
product is at present confined to the continent of India and 
the Archipelago, whence vaiious samj^les are sent, none how- 
ever equal to that of Ceylon. . . . Malacca and Java both 
exhibit inferior cinnamon, Bengal cassia is of very fine quality 
and sold in Calcutta for Ceylon, the cases having a few sticks 
of the latter sjiread on the toi).*' As a proof of the superiority 
of Cejdon cinnamon, according to Bennet in 1825 some plants 
were smuggled out of tlie island in a Dutch brig, commanded 
by an Englishman, and taken to Java and thence spread through 
the Ai'chipelago; it is also said to have been planted in the West 
Indies at the end of the last century, and Lamarck in a note 
to Langles' edition of Thunberg says it was introduced into 
the Mauritius in 1796. 

According to Dr. Pereira, the princii)al consumers of cassia 
and coai'se cinnamon are the chocolate makers of continental 
Europe and Mexico ; he says he was told the Germans, Turks 
and Russians prefer cassia to cinnamon, which is not strong 
enough for them. ** Four kinds of cinnamon ai*e known in the 
London market, Ceylon, Tillicherry, Java, and Malabar or 
Madras. Cayenne is peculiar to the French market." 

In 1691, 375,000 pounds of cinnamon from Ceylon were im- 


ported into Amsterdam at 4s. 6d. per pomid; during the 
eighteenth century the average annual imports were about 
480,000 poimds,the highest prices ever known occurred between 
1753 and 1787, when it rose from 8s. 4d. to 17s. Sd.^ The 
small*revenue compared to the price of cinnamon derived by 
the Dutch (only £12,000) was probably owing to the pecula- 
tions of theii' governors. {Vide ch. xvi.) When their own 
supplies were not sufficient, the Dutch bought the spice fi*om 
the King of Kandy at 20s. per bale of eighty-eight pounds^ 
partly paid for in salt, and they, as well as the Portuguese,, 
frequently burnt quantities to keep up the price. 

The British revenue during theii* monopoly varied from 
£50,000 to £97,000. The average exports were 

From 1804 to 1808 . . 4,083 bales. | From 1815 to 1821 . . 5,000 bales. 
„ 1809 to 1814 . . 4,567 „ | „ 1821 to 1831 . . 3,500 „ 

From 1835 to 1846 the average export was about 500,000 lbs. ; 
in 1835 the price was 9s., and in 1846, 4s. 2d. In 1862 the 
quantity exported was 875,475 lbs. ; in 1867, 1,017,750 lbs., 
valued at £50,887. In 1868 the export was exceptional, 
2,056,509 lbs., 3 valued at £102,825, or Is. per lb. The 
average price in London since 1866 has been Is. 9 Jd. Cinnamon 
was analyzed by Vauquelin in 1817, and found to contain a 
volatile oil, tannin in large quantities, mucilage and colouring 
matter with a peculiar tannic acid. 

One of the principal plantations is near Negumbo, and 
two in the vicinity of Colombo, occupj-ing several thousand 
acres, and presenting the appearance of laurel plantations, 
growing on a plain of quartz sand as white as snow, but 
this only covers the surface to the depth of a few inches, 
the subsoil being a grey sand resting on extensive beds of 
marine shells. Dr. Davy found on analysis that the soil con- 
tained 98*5 per cent, of silicate sand, 0*5 vegetable matter, and 
1*1 per cent, of water. Mixed with the cinnamon plants are 
various larger trees, bread-fioiits, cashew-nuts, and jambos, 
while several roads running through them form a pleasant 
drive in the evening, when tlie soft cooings of numerous 

* liCc's Riboyro, AppcD. * Reports in Blue Books, 1870, vol xlix. 


turtle and cinnamon doves are heard in the distance, giving 
place at night to the yell of the jackal hunting in packs. 

After allowing them to be overrun with jungle and covered 
with ant-hills and parasitical plants, the Government in 1840 
tried to sell them in lots, but in consequence of the depression 
in the trade, fi'om 4s. to IDs. per acre was all that was oflfered 
in response to the proposal. Some years later j615,000 was 
obtained for the greater portion, or about £1 5s. per acre. The 
Negimibo plantation contained 5,137 acres, and Marendan, 
3,824 ; there were also some smaller plots at Pantiu'a, Barbeyrin 
and Galle. The purchased portions are now in a fine condition ; 
among the recent improvements is the application of manure, 
which is said to have raised the produce of an acre from 
fifty to 350 Ibs.i 

The true cinnamon (C. Zeylanica), is a branchy tree grow- 
ing naturally to a height of twenty or thirty feet, covered with 
a rough ash-coloured bark, which in the young shoots is 
speckled with dark green and orange brown spots ; the young 
leaves are scarlet with yellow veins, changing with age to a 
deep glossy green, and the flowers, which have a very disagree- 
able odour, are wliite, having a six-cleft corolla and nine 
stamens, producing an oval purple berry the size of a black 
currant, fixed in a cup like an acorn: they have a slight taste of 
turpentine, and are a great favourite with pigeons and other 
bii'ds. The blossoms come out in January and February, and 
the berries are ripe in August. The roots have a pungent smell 
of camphor, and the leaves when crushed in the hand a strong 
aromatic odour. The plant is stated to be remarkable for its 
longevity, some trees planted more than 100 years since being 
in full vigour yet. 

Cinnamon requires some shade, and a few large trees planted 
among them are desirable ; little cultivation is required beyond 
cutting down the larger branches to produce a fresh growth of 
straight shoots for peeling, which spring up like those of hazel; 
plants are produced from seeds either sown in a bed for trans- 
planting, or dropped into holes made with a hoe, having a small 
quantity of wood ashes in each for manure. In six years they 

* Capper, J/R. A. S. , 1866 ; also new series, i. 42. 


4tre about five feet high and fit for i^eeling, but a good crop is 
riot obtained before nine years. 

Cinnamon is usually cut for peeling when the young leaves 
are beginning to turn green, and after the heavy rains in 
May have filled the plants with sap and softened the bark. The 
shoots are cut as much of a size as possible, or about two 
inches in circumference, then tied in bundles and left in heaps 
until a slight fermentation takes place, facilitating the sepa- 
ration of the bark, which is accomplish edby cutting it length- 
ways with the point of a knife and removing it with the fingers.^ 
The bark is then placed on a round piece of wood, and the outer 
green cuticle scraped oflF with a knife, the workman sitting on 
the ground and holding one end of the stick in his toes, after 
which the bark is dried in the sim, and the smaller quills placed 
inside the larger ones. When dry it is formed into bales 
covered with gunny cloth, from 85 to 92 lbs. weight, broken 
pieces being i)ut into boxes or used for distilling oil of 

When new cinnamon has an exquisite flavour, a good deal of 
which it loses in a few months, so that persons in Europe never 
taste it in perfection; great diversity exists in the flavour of the 
bark from the same plant, arising from the care or skill in the 
preparation, the nature of the soil, the age of the trees, the 
amount of shade, &c. Persons experienced in the business 
i^an tell the quality from the appearance of the bark, but it is 
usual to chew a small quantity to ascertain it, which is a 
disagreeable office, as it takes the mucus o£f the lips, and 
tongue ; the best quality should melt in the mouth, and be 
little thicker than stout paper. It is remarkable that cinna- 
mon will not retain its fine aroma during a long sea voyage 
in the hold of a vessel, unless a number of bags of pepper 
are placed between the bales; also the mixture of bales of 
coarse and fine cinnamon is injurious to the aromatic pro- 
perty of the latter. The Portuguese and Dutch tried the ex- 
periment of placing coir between the bales, and also made 

^ Csesar Fix*dorick and other travellers mention ** that the bark was taken off 
the trees (shoots) while growing.*' A manner of peeling formerly practised by 
the Chalias. 


them up in cow-hides, which aoswered tolerably, but it is said 
there is nothing so good as pepper. 

The cutting and peeling is performed by a distinct caste of 
men called Chalias, whose organization for this purpose is 
described in Ch. XVI. In 1832, when forced labour was 
abolished, it gave employment to 3,751 men and their families: 
in 1829. the Government paid the Chalias at the rate of 3d. 
per lb. for peeling the spice, increased in consequence of their 
complaints to 4d. and 5d. in 1833. An active Chalia, with the 
assistance of his wife, can peel 100 lbs. in a month, which at 
4Jd. makes £1 17s. 6d., or £1 for the season of four months, 
better wages than those obtained by many other classes in 
the island at that time, and sufficient with their habits, 
effectually disposing of Miss Martineau's statements in her 
romance about pearls and cinnamon.^ 

A fine gold-colom'ed volatile oil, similar in taste to oil of 
cloves, containing steapin or cinnamon camphor and benzoic 
acid, is obtained by distillation from the leaves and bark, 
which are fii'st macerated in sea-water for two days. Cinna- 
mon berries, and the young shoots when boiled in hot water, 
yield a peculiar fatty substance called Colombo wax, of a 
white colom*, wliich forms on the top of the water when coH, 
and was made into candles by the Portuguese for burning 
on the altai-s of their churches. Di Conti and Knox men- 
tion this species of wax, and say it was used by the natives 
** for aches and pains.*' Dr. Eoyle in his " Antiquity of Hindu 
Medicine,*' supposes it was the comacum of Theophrastus. 
Cinnamon roots }ield camphor, which is also obtained from 
the bark of one of the wild species by making an incision 
in it. 

The "Folia malabarthrum," an article of commerce 
obtained from India, mentioned in '* Periplus," is generally 
thought to be identical with the Tamala patra of the Hindus, 
or C. tamala leaves made into balls, sold at the present day in 
Indian bazaars.* Some writers have supposed the " folia " to 
be betel leaves, as they are described as resembling vine leaves. 
*' Periplus " says, ** every year a dwarfish kind of people with 

^ Capper, J. A. S., 1846. ' Bhccde, Hortus Malabaiicns. 


broad faces, who ai*e almost wild but hai-mless, come to the 
frontier of Thin (probably Bootan), bringing with them goods 
in baskets that look as if made of green vines, and held a 
fair. When they were gone, the people of the country 
collected the leaves from the baskets which were scattered 
about, and made them into balls which they stitched through 
with the fibres of the twigs ; these balls are of three descrip- 
tions and called malabarthrum." (Vide ch. x.) 

Colonel Yule says, " Garcia Da Oiia, 1663, was the first to 
point out that the malabarthrum was the Tamala patra. Lin- 
schotten also says, ''the leaves called 'folium indium' the 
Indians call Tamala patra ; they have a pleasant clove-like 
smell, and made into balls, being used for preserving clothes 
from moths." A similar use was assigned to it by Dioscorides- 
and Pliny (xii. 26.) The former says, " some people mistake 
malabarthrum for the Indian nardi. This substance, once so 
highly prized in Home, costing during the Empire 300 denarii 
per lb., is now little used even in India, except to flavour cus- 
tards and curries."^ It does not appear to have ever been 
made in Ceylon. The berries and flower buds of the aromatic 
laurels, when dried, have a resemblance to cloves or nails in 
shape ; cassia-berries were formerly exported in large quantities 
from China, but are not often met with now, and were mis- 
taken for cinnamon berries, which api)ear to have been very 
rarely dried in Ceylon. 

* Cathay, Pref., cxlvi. 



The first work ever published on the botany of Ceylon was 
John Burman's *' Thesaurus Zeylanicus exhibens planta in 
Insula Zeylana nascentes,'* Amsterdam, 1737, founded on the 
collection of Herman, a Dutch botanist, who returned from 
India in 1679. This was followed by Linnceus's " Flora Zey- 
lanica,'* in 1749, and Moon s. " Catalogue of Plants growing 
in Ceylon," 1824. They are all, however, very incomplete, 
and it was remarked in 1846 by Dr. Gardner, ** that although 
Ceylon is celebrated for its luxmiant vegetation, the plants 
which compose it were ver}'^ little known, no systematic pubU- 
cation having appeared since Linnseus, except Moon's, a work 
never of much use, and now quite obsolete." To remedy this 
deficiency Dr. Gardner undertook a new Ceylon Flora, but as 
he did not live to finish it, it has since been accomplished by 
Mr. Thwaites, his successor at Peradenia, assisted by Dr. 
J. D. Hooker, F.R.S., and entitled " Enumeratio Plantarum 
Zeylaniffi," 1864. 

Besides the above, several contributions to Ceylon botany 
have been published in periodicals and other works. Many of 
the plants which are also native in the Archipelago, are 
described in the " Herbarium Amboiensis " of Bumphius, aOid 
others common to India, by Boxburgh and Indian botanists. 
Dr. Gardner published a short description in the Appendix 
to Lee's " Bibeyro," 1847, and described several plants in the 
" Calcutta Journal of Natural Histoty." Others are figured 
by Sir W. Hooker in his " Icones " and elsewhere, and nearly 
all the Ferns and Lycopodiacece in the " Synopsis Filicum,** 
1868, also by Dr. Wight, in his "Icones Plant. Ind. Orientalis,'' 

BOTANY. 347 

from specimens collected by Colonel and Mrs. Walker. Dr. 
W. Amott has likewise described some in his " Pugillus." 
Many Ceylon fimgi are described in the Annals of Nat. Hist. 
1842, London Journal of Botany, 1847, Kew Garden Mis- 
cellany, 1854, and Linnsean Trans., 1871, and most of the 
Orchidacece by Dr. Lindley, from specimens and drawings sent 
from the island by Mr. Macrae. 

There is a magnificent Botanical garden maintained by the 
government at Peradenia near Kandy, where a matchless 
display of tropical plants is to be seen. It was originally 
established in 1799 by Mr. North, at Kalany near Colombo, 
subsequently removed to Slave Island in 1810, and to Caltura 
in 1813, where Moon's ** Catalogue " was made, and hence to 


The number of plants found in Ceylon turns out to be less 
than was expected from the prolific vegetation. Dr. Gardner 
estimated that they might extend to 5000 species, but the 
number of indigenous plants enumerated by Mr. Thwaites 
amounts to only 2832, viz. : — 

Dicotyledojut 1959 

Monccotyled(/iie3 648 

Filices, Lycopodiacccc, and MarsileacecB . . 225 

However nearly double that of England, and about one- 
thirtieth of the total number of plants growing in the world, 
which amoimt to 92,930. Mr. Thwaites says, ** care has been 
taken in his list not to multiply si>ecies imnecessarily, as a 
considerable amount of variation has been observed. Instances 
occur in which a more elevated locality produces a foim 
possessing a stouter habit and larger flowers than in the same 
species growing a little above the level of the sea.*' The same ' 
has been remarked in India, where the Datura alba of the hills 
is three times the size of that in the lower coimtry. 

Botanists generally divide the vegetable kingdom into two 
great families — the Phanerogamic, or flowering plants, and 
the Cryptogamic, or non-flowering plants ; the flowering plants 
are again subdivided into two genera: Dicotyledones, or 
those having two cotyledons or seed lobes, the first leaves in 


the rudimentary plant or embryo, such as the oak, elm, and 
pea ; and Monocotyledones, or those having only one coty- 
ledon ; or if two are present, one is very much smaller, such 
as palms and grasses. This arrangement was first adopted bj 
John Eay in 1703, and has been followed by De Candolle and 
most botanists. The Cryptogamic family include the Filicei 
or ferns ; Lycopodiacea, or club mosses, which are leafy plants 
with the habits of mosses ; and the Marsileacea or Bhizocarps, 
stemless plants usually found in ditches. 

In the following account of some of the most useful and 
remarkable plants of the island much assistance has been 
derived fi'om Mr. Thwaite's valuable Catalogue. 

As Dr. Gardner remaiked, *' the vegetation of all countries 
is greatly influenced by physical aspect and climate," quite 
exemplified in Ceylon. The south-western and southern dis- 
tricts, under the genial influence of the S.W. monsoon, displays 
a luxuriant and brilliant vegetation of showy tropical plants, 
lofty trees, and heavy foliage, festooned with charming scan- 
dent plants, while fungi of gaudy colom's grow round their 
roots. The plants and climate of this portion of the island 
and Malabar are very similar ; the flora also resembles that of 
Sumati'a and the ai'chipelago. 

The north and north-eastern side possesses a very exten- 
sive flora, but its general character is maiked by a few species 
which predominate, and are generally identical with those of 
the Coromandel coast from the drier climate and soil, com- 
prising thorny plants and stunted ti*ees or shrubs on the lower 
plains. Acacias, Aurantiacece, Cassia fistula, Carissa spinarum, 
and many Euphorbias, &c. At the foot of the mountains a 
great change takes place ; the inland north-eastern district 
being remarkable for the immense forests of fine timber brought 
' down to the coast at Trincomalee and other places, comprising 
satinwood {Chloroxylon swictenia), Ceylon oak {Schleicheia 
trijttga), ebony {Diospyros ebenus), iron-wood (Mesua ferrea), 
Bassia longifolia and Berrya avi(yniilla. Most of the plants 
that grow on the muddy shores and salt lagoons on both sides 
of the island belong to the order Bhizophora, strictly inter- 
tropical species ; some belonging to Australia, and many the 

BOTANY. 349 

same as found in the Eastern Archipelago, as the .Egicerm 
fragrans, Thespesia populnea, the tulip-tree of Ceylon ; Dili' 
varia illicifolius, and Paritiwn tiliaceum, *' bellipatta " of the 
Sinhalese, which has an extensive geographical range. It is 
at an elevation of from 2000 to 8000 feet that the greater part 
of the plants i)eculiar to Ceylon are to be found, but they 
generally belong to the same natural orders gi'owing in the 
Nilgherries, Himalayas, the high lands of Malacca and Java, 
while a few resemble those of Africa. "Although the Nil- 
gherries have many species in common with similar elevations 
in Cej'lon, a gi^eat number found in high altitudes are peculiar 
to the island : of three species of ranunculus one only is 
common to both places, the other two being peculiar to Ceylon. 
Of Michelia four or five of the species differ from the single 
one in the Nilgherries. Ceylon has in general more affinity to 
the Nilgherries than any other part of the world — ^yet it has a 
creation of its own.'* ^ 

The difference between plants of the same species growing in 
Ceylon and the Nilgherries appears to consist chiefly in the 
larger leaves and flowers, proceeding probabl}' from the milder 
and moister climate. Dr. Hooker s '* Journal in the Hima- 
layas ** shows that there is much similarity between the vege- 
tation of Ceylon mountains, the Nepal, and lower Hima- 
layan ranges up to 6000 feet ; above this altitude the tempe- 
rature in the Himalaya is much colder than at Newera Ellia.* 

In the warm damj) parts of the mountains up to 4000 feet 
the herbaceous vegetation and underwood are composed of ferns 
of varied sizes, including gigantic tree ferns, Ahophila gigantea, 
also Urticacea, Blumece, and enormous garden balsam (Lnpa- 
ticns balsamina). Before the extension of coffee planting in 
the Gampolo district, a species of gamboge tree, Xanthochymus 
ovalifoliu8y and the gorgeous Salmalia vialabarica formed the 
principal part of whole forests, covering the ground with a 
carpet of its fallen scarlet petals. 

In the highest regions the trees diminish in size, presenting 
a gnarled and stunted appearance, their branches and stems 

* Gardner. 

- "Kumaoon andTuree Ranges,* ' by Capt Madden, J. A.S. Beng., 1818, p. 875. 


being covered with pendulous masses of lichens and mosses 
and many kinds of orchids ; none of the scandent genera of 
the lower country being foimd in these elevations. A close 
undergrowth of nillo (Acantliacea) or delicate ferns, and a strong 
balsamic odour prevails in the jungles about Newera EUia: 
here, under the stimulating influence of perpetual spring, 
annuals from Europe, as the peach and apple, become ever- 
greens, and cease to ripen fimit, whilst many plants are found 
to remind a European of home — ^ranunculus, violets, and cam- 
panula, rubus and berberry, guelder rose, anemone, alchemilla, 
agrimony, blue-blossomed gentian, sundew, and in the swamps, 
carex and j uncus. 

Exotics. — Numbers of foreign plants are found in Ceylon, 
and the gardens of Colombo contain so many exotics, the 
suburbs have been called a botanical garden on a grand scale. 
There are many well-known European flowers and vegetables — 
roses, geraniums, sweet pea, tlie common green pea, radishes, 
tomato, purslane, Jerusalem artichoke, and cabbage. Most of 
the European vegetables and flowers thrive admirably at 
Newera ElUa, particularly potatoes, and some answer tolerably 
at Colombo and the warmer parts. 

Two species of prickly pear {Opuntia vulgaris), growing 
wild on the road-sides about Colombo, are natives of tropical 
America. A rose-coloured periwinkle (Vinca rosea), from Ma- 
dagascar, has overrim the cinnamon gardens ; the climbing 
Allamanda cathartica, with its dark-green leaves and golden 
blossoms, comes from Guiana ; the yellow Turnera ulmifolia, 
from the West Indies ; the Cape gooseberry {Physalis Peru- 
viana), growing wild at Newera Ellia, came fi'om Peru ; the 
Mimosa pudica, a common weed about Kandy, is from South 
America ; also the four o'clock plant (Mirahilis jalapa), from 
Mexico. The agave, the aloe, the yucca, or Adam's needle, 
Thcohroma cacao (the chocolate tree), and the ipecacuanha, 
with its orange blossoms, are natives of South America ; the 
blue-flowered Nicandra physaloides comes from Peru ; the 
dwarf prickly poppy (Argemone), and the Hclmnthus, or sun- 
flower, are from Mexico. The Guinea grass, which grows in 
so many gardens about Colombo, and a scarlet ipomea (/• 

BOTAXY. 351 

coccinea) are from the West Indies ; the tall casuaiin, from 
Madagascar, and the Latania rubra, or Bourbon palm, from 
the Mauritias. Three species of Xyhphylla, or sea-side laurel^ 
are from Jamaica, and the StiUingia sebifera, or tallow-tree, 
from China. 

Although a kind of wild nutmeg grows abundantly in the 
island and many paiis of the East, the true or spicy nutmeg 
(Myristicafragrans) is only native in the Archipelago ; but Mr. 
Anstruther, colonial secretary, about the year 1838 introduced 
it into Ceylon, where it has succeeded very well, also the clove 
(Caryophyllum). Sir E. Tennent gives this as a '* proof of the 
greater aflBnity between the flora of Ceylon and the Archipelago 
than that of India," as the mangostana and the nutmeg have 
been successfully introduced into the island, while they have 
failed in India." This is a mistake as far as the latter is con- 
cerned. ** At the Madras Exhibition of 1855, fine samples of 
nutmegs were sent by General CuUen from his garden at 
Velley Mally, near Travancore, likewise from Cochin (Bal- 
four, Cyclop, of India) ; and nutmegs of good quality are now 
grown in the West Indies. Cloves, another plant of the 
Archipelago, long remarkable for its limited natural distribu- 
tion, have been also successfully cultivated in General Cullen's 
gai'dens, which produce some of the finest specimens to be 
seen anywhere ;" and Zanzibar cloves are found in the London 

The Ageratum conyzoides from the West Indies and other 
foreign plants have extended into the jungles, and become 
pests to the coffee-planter. Mr. Thwaites remarks, " From the 
large extent of forest land appropriated to coffee cultivation, 
there is little doubt that some of the indigenous i)lants will in 
time become exceedingly rare, and the obtrusive character of 
the Lantana mixta, a plant brought to the island about forty 
years ago, is also helping to alter the character of the vegeta- 
tion up to an elevation of 3000 feet, having apparently found 
in Ceylon a soil and climate exactly suited to its growth, 
covering thousands of acres with its dense masses of foliage, 
taking complete possession of the land where cultivation has 
been neglected or abandoned, preventing the growth of any 



other plant, and even destroying small trees, the tops of which 
its subscandent stems are able to reach. The fruit of the 
plant is so acceptable to frugivorous birds that through their 
insti'umentality it is spreading rapidly." The Ixintana is one 
of the VerheiiaceaefYery aromatic plants originally from the West 
Indies. Tr'ifolium repens, or common clover, and chick-weed 
(Stellaria media) are quite naturalized at Newera EUia. 

In the following descriptions the native name will be usually 
placed first, between commas. 

Li:}t of Ceylon Vegetable ProducU known to Commerce, or Exported. 

Sanders wood, P, santalinus, 
Sappan or Bnudl wood, C(V9aIpiHia 

Areca nuts. 

Arrowroot, Maranta anmdinacea. 

Cardamoms, Elcttaria major, 

Ceylon moss, Ploc-iria caiulia. 

Cinnamon Iwrk. 
•fCloves, Cariioi)hyUium. 

Coccidus Indicus. 


Chay root, Oldenlandia uad^Uata, 


Coir and cocoa nuts. 

Ebony, Diospyros cbenum. 

Ginger, Zingiber officinale, 
*f Gamboge, Hcbradendron camhogioides. 

Hemp, Cannabis Indica. 

Myrobalums, Trnninalia Bellcrica, 

Indian ball, uEglc Mannelos. 
f Nutmegs, Myristicafragrans. 

Nux vomica, Strychnos. 
f Pe2»per, Piper nigrum, 

Tliosc marked t arc doubtful. 


Earth nut, Arachis hypogcca. 
Cocoa-nut, Cocos nucifera. 
Castor, Ricinus, 
f C^olomlx) wax or cinnamon steapin. 
Margoza, AzadiradiUv Indica^ 
Mee or illipe, Bassia longifolia, 
Kckuna, Ale u rites tribola. 

Essential Ou^ 

Pandanus odoratissimus. 


Citronella, Andropogon Martini, 

Lemon, A. scha^nantAus, 

Several attempts have been made to cultivate tea in Ceylon, 
but tlie}' have been unsuccessful as a conmiercial sx)eculation. 
The plant is said to require a winter, and there is a difficulty 
in obtaining the skilled labom* necessary to prepare the leaves. 
Cinchona, which has been lately tried, promises to be more 
successful.^ The bark is now being i)roduced in the Nilgherries, 
where the ti'ees thrive well, and should likewise in the moun- 
tains of Ceylon, the climate and vegetation being similar. 
Some of the exports named here are entered in the list doubt- 
fully, as changes take place in the exports of produce from 

Reports, 1873, xlviii, 30. 

BOTANY. 353 

countries owing to competition among them. Most of the 
vegetable and wood dyes formerly so valuable — such as brazil 
and indigo — are being rapidly superseded by coal-tar dyes. 

Timber trees. — A list of ninety-six diflferent kinds of timber 
known to native workmen, with a short description of their 
uses, was made out some years since by Adrian Mendis, Master 
Carpenter of the Royal Engineer Department, Colombo, but 
the number, though great, is exceeded by the woods of India 
and the Archipelago, where 450 are enumerated. The various 
European exhibitions of late years have caused many lists to be 
compiled in hopes they might be used in Europe, but the cost 
of conveyance must to a great extent stand in the way of this. 
The nature and properties of many eastern timbers are quite 
unknown in Europe,^ and would probably be found for the 
most part unsuited to the climate, and not worth importing. 
But to the island their importance is increasing every year, in 
consequence of the clearing of forests for coffee plantations, 
and the wanton destruction continually going on, some of the 
finest woods running a chance of extinction. A law was passed 
in 1872 to protect the forests in future. Specimens of forty- 
eight of the best woods of Ceylon were exhibited at the Ex- 
hibition of 1851 by the Colonial Department. Those most 
noted were the paloo (MimusopSy India), described as a hard, 
close-grained, heavy wood, internally of a deep brown colour, 
with recent layers of a reddish yellow ; its compact and even 
structure indicates that it is admirably adapted for turning : 
jak {Artocarpui), a moderately hard, rather open-grained, 
heavy wood, of a beautiful saffron-yellow, with a pleasant 
odour, calamander, and ebony. Several specimens of Ceylon 
woods will be found in the Kew Garden Musemn. Many of 
the woods of the island are remarkable for their density, twenty 
species ranging from nearly sixty to seventy pounds the cubic 
foot ; one of the acacias, the cocoa-nut, the two palmyras, and 

> In 1867 Great Britain imported 12,644 loads of teak, valued at £123,582, 
from India, and 467 loads of Ceylon timber, valued at £3,724, or £7 195. 6d. per 
ton, and 215 loads of dye-woods, value £2,159, or £10 per ton. The total export 
of Ceylon timber for the same year was £30,838, including £23,482 worth to 



ebony from seventy to seventy-one pounds, and the iron-wood 
{Mema f erred) seventy- two pounds. 

The del (Artocarpus nobilis, Thw.) is a large tree much 
used for making canoes, and in house building. The froit, 
which is the size of a water-melon, abounds in a tough juice 
made into bird-lime, and the seeds when roasted are eaten by 
the natives. This tree, a distinct species, has been con- 
founded with A. pvhescens, Willd., the angili of Western 

The jak (Artocarpus integrifoKa), ''kosgass" of the Sinha- 
lese, is one of their most valuable trees, extensively used in 
making furniture, boats, i&c. The wood is yellow when new, 
but assumes the colour of mahogany with age, and is suscepti- 
ble of a very high polish. Jak is planted round every hamlet 
and found in every garden of the lower country, but not wild 
in the jungle. 

The "mee" (Bassia longifolia) gives a valuable wood for 
building purposes, bridges, and keels of dhoneys, said to be 
in no way inferior to teak, and free from the attacks of the 
teredo. A variety named " paloo " (Mimusops Indica) is equally 
valuable. The " moonemal " (M. elengi) is a very ornamental 
tree with dark green oblong leaves, and fragrant white flowers. 
The timber is used for making furniture. 

The " hallmillia " {Berrya amomiUa) is a fine straight tree 
about forty feet high, with winged seeds, found chiefly in the 
drier parts of the island, and exported in large quantities from 
Trincomalee to India, where it is called Trincomalee wood. 
The Madras masoola boats which pass through the terrible 
surf of the Coromandel coast are made of it. This wood is 
highly prized both in India and Ceylon, being light, tough, and 
pliant, and the best suited in the island for ship-building. 

Galamander (Diospyros qtuesita, Thw.), a variety of the 
Ebenacea family, is the most beautiful of all fancy woods, re- 
sembling both rosewood and zebra. The colour of the ground 
is a rich brown of difierent shades, exquisitely variegated and 
waved with black. It is very dense and hard, turns well, and 
polishes like glass. The roots furnish the finest specimens, 

* Edye, Woods of Ceylon, J. A. K. S. 

BOTAXY. 355 

the ground being paler and the black markings more intense. 
Several varieties are found in India on the Circar hills and 
Coromandel coast, where it is called Coromandel wood, from 
which the term calamander has been traced,^ though more re- 
sembling *' kaloo medereya," the Sinhalese name. The true 
calamander has become scarce in Ceylon, and large pieces very 
difficult to procure ; but a variety D. oppositifolia, Thw., of a 
redder colour, and with more black wavings, is rather common. 
This appears to have been the wood sent to the Exhibition of 

Next in value to calamander is the well-known ebony 
{D. ebenens), a hard, close-grained wood, as black as a coal, 
used for making carved furniture. It is only tlie heart of the 
tree which is black, the outer parts being quite pale, and used 
for common purposes. It grows a gi^eat size, with large coria- 
ceous leaves of an oval shape. The ripe fruit is eaten by the 
natives, but is very astringent, also the bark. Many varieties 
of the Ebenacese family are found in the island, used for building 
and other purposes. " Kaloo-kadombaereya " (D. oocarpa, 
Thw.) furnishes a variegated timber curiously veined, and 
specimens from the heart of the tree are occasionally met with 
of great beauty. The juice of the " timberu " (D, embryopterisf 
is used for rubbing over fishing canoes, cordage, lines, and nets, 
which hardens and preserves them, producing a brownish 
colour similar to tanning. The fmit is about two inches in 
diameter, of a green colour, and full of a very astringent juice, 
containing sixty per cent, of pure tannic acid, used in India as 
an excellent remedy for diarrhoea.^ 

Ebony is obtained from the Archipelago, Coromandel coast, 
Mauritius, and Madagascar, but that of Ceylon is said to be 
superior to all of them. Large quantities of the various species 
are imported into Europe, and it appears to have been known 
from the earliest times, being mentioned by Ezekiel (ch. xxvii. 
15), where the men of Dedan are described as bringing to 
Tyre ivory and ebony. Herodotus (iii. 95) mentions ebony as 
part of the presents given to the King of Persia by the people 

* Tennent. « Also D, ghUinosa. 

' Balfour, Cyclo. Beng. Pharm., p. 290. 

JL A 2 


of Ethiopia; and Dioscorides speaks of two kinds — one 
Ethiopian, which was considered the best, and the other from 
India, variegated with pale stripes ; but it is said no species 
of Diospyros have as yet been discovered by botanists in 
Upper Egypt or Abyssinia, hence the ancients must have 
obtained their ebony either from India, Ceylon, or Mada- 
gascar, and it has been seen there are many trees of this 
family growing in these places fmnishing both black and 
variegated ebony, although commentators have doubted whether 
there was more than one kind. 

One or two species of sweet-scented CalophyUum^ called 
*' domba *' by the natives, furnish in abundance a soft, open- 
grained, light wood, bearing a resemblance to inferior Hondu- 
ras mahogany. It has a pretty curled pattern, and takes a 
good polish. These are very tall trees, conunon in the lower 
central parts of the island ; the snow-white flowers, which grow 
in clusters, are very fragrant, and the green fruit contains a 
quantity of pleasant fixed oil of a dark green colour, called 
** keenatel,*' good for skin diseases. The seeds of some other 
varieties^ also contain a quantity of oil used in burning. 
Calophyllum are common in the Archipelago, and found all 
over India, where they are called calaba trees, and a yellow 
resin which resembles myrrh, named tacamahaca, obtained 
from the roots. 

** Booroota *' or satin-wood {Chloroxylon swietenia) is found 
in the greatest abundance in the eastern province, where it 
forms the common building timber, growing a large size in 
Ceylon, although a small tree in India. It is a beautiful glossy 
yellow, exceedingly hard and fine-grained wood, with an agree- 
able odour, and contains an essential oil. Some specimens 
are flowered or wavy in the grain, and highly prized, being very 
rare, and considered by some next to calamander. 

" Na-gass " or iron-wood (Mesua ferrea) has been named 
after the Arabian physician and botanist Meuse, who lived in 
the eighth century. Sir W. Jones says truly, ** it is one of the 
most beautiful trees on earth,*' with a deep evergreen foliage 
and rich fragrant blossoms of ivory-white petals, and orange- 

^ Wiglit's Icones. Calophyllum is called Alexandrian laurel in England. 

BOTANY. 357 

coloured stamens ; the leaves are lanceolate, and when young of 
a scarlet colour. It is a 'great favourite with the Buddhists, 
who say the next Buddha will ohtain " nirvana " imder its 
shade, and is commonly foimd planted near theii* temples. 
The dried blossoms called " nagkesur " in Sanskrit, are sold 
in every bazaar in India, being highly esteemed for their 
fragrance and medicinal properties. The arrows of Kamadeva, 
the Hindu Cupid, are tipped with them, which is alluded to by 
Moore in the lines — 

** And those sweet flowrets that unfold 
Their buds on Kamadeva's quiver, 
Anemones and seas of gold, 
And new-blown lilies of the river." 

The " nadoojig^* (Dalbergia lanceolaria), {ound in the lower 
southern province, yields very good open-grained heavy wood, 
well adapted for furniture. D. latifolia furnishes the " sessu," 
a black wood, one of the most valuable of Western India, men- 
tioned m " Periplus." 

The " sooreya " (Thespesiapapulnea) furnishes a hard open- 
grained heavy wood of a deep chestnut colour, admirable for 
carriages, gun-stocks, and blocks. This is the tulip tree of the 
Europeans, agreeably shading the streets of Colombo and other 
seaports, being fond of the saline air. Linnseos very appro- 
priately named it Hibiscus populneus, as it has the leaves of the 
poplar and flower of the hibiscus ; its large tulip-shaped 
blossoms have a dark red centre. The tulip tree is only found 
within the tropics, where two or three varieties exist. ** It is 
doubtful if it is a native of Ceylon, although a few are found 
near Batticaloa apparently wild."^ 

The well-known teak (Tectona grandis) is said not to be a 
native of Ceylon, but introduced by the Dutch, who planted it 
in several parts of the island. It is a straight and lofty tree^ 
with panicles of showy white flowers and very large leaves 
from twelve to twenty inches long, the shape of an elephant's 
eai\ The wood, of a light brown colour, is remarkably dense, 
strong, and durable, and, when fresh, has an agreeable odour 
something like a rose. It contains an ash-coloured opaque oil, 

^ Thwaites. 


sold in Indian bazaars as a vamisli for woodwork. Teak is a 
native of the mountains of Malabar, the banks of the Godaveiy^ 
Bui'mah and Pegu, which contains vast forests of great im- 
portance to England as a maritime nation. 

" Koang " or Ceylon oak {Schleicheia trijuga) is common in 
the eastern parts of the island. The natives obtain an oil for 
burning from the acorns, and a quantity of lac is often found 
on the young branches. 

The " seyembala " or tamarind, is a lofty tree with a 
straight trunk, small crooked branches and acacia-like leaves, 
which throw a very deep shade, supposed to be cooler than 
.that from any other tree, but considered dangerous to sleep 
under in India, as they give out a damp acid. The wood is 
heavy, close gi'ained, and hard, some specimens are beautifully 
veined, and considered one of the finest woods of Southern 
India. The well-known fruit, much used in medicine for 
making cooling drinks, is a long deep brown pod, full of a 
fibrous pulp and seeds like a bean, largely exported from India 
in casks between layers of sugar. The natives of Ceylon and 
India use them as a condiment in curries, and for preserving 
fish, hence called tamarind fish. The leaves, which are nearly 
as tart as the fruit, are also used in curries, and as a decoc- 
tion for wounds. The Europeans first became acquainted 
with the fruit through the Arabs, who call it " tamar hinde,** 
hence, no doubt, the Latin name.^ Mr. Thwaites considers 
that it is probably not truly indigenous in Ceylon. 

Fruits. — Very few of the native fruits are eaten by the 
Europeans, being for the most part sour or disagreeable ; the 
finest fruits in the island are not indigenous, having been 
introduced by the Portuguese and Dutch. The mangosteen 
{Garcenia mangostana), the most delicious and prince of fruits, 
is a native of Sumatra and the spice islands ; it is round, 
about the size of an orange, with a brownish shell some- 
thing like that of a pomegranate, but much softer and thicker, 
divided internally like an orange, having the flavour of a grape 
and strawbeiTy, 

The papaw (Carica papaya) is supposed to have been intro- 

> Boyle. 

BOTANY. 359 

duced from America. Linschoten says, "it came from beyond 
the Philippines to Malacca, and from hence to India " (p. 97). 
A tall tree with a hollow stem, topped with a head of leaves 
having very long stalks, underneath which hang a number of 
fleshy fruit about the size of a small water melon, being very 
similar in appearance and flavour, full of a milky juice and flat 

The "jambu" or Malay apple (Eugenia malaccensis) is a 
native of Malacca ; this fruit is nearly white, having a waxy 
appearance, very soft and woolly in texture, with the flavom* 
and perfume of rose leaves, and commonly called the rose 
apple, but the real rose apple (Etigenia jamhos) is a much 
smaller fruit, resembling an apricot, about the size of a hen's 
egg, and a native of Java; the tree, which is similar to a peach, 
is rather rare in Ceylon, and the natives take some pains to 
preserve the fruit, when ripening, from the attacks of squirrels, 
by enclosing them in two halves of cocoa-nut shells tied 
together, the stalk x)assing through a nick in the side of the 

The "lo-quat " (Eriobotrya japonica) from Japan, is a small 
round fruit resembling a diminutive apple, the colour of an 
apricot, with an agreeable acid flavour. 

Shaddocks are abundant and resemble a huge lemon ; some 
have a red pulp. This fruit appears to be the result of culti- 
vation, as it is not to be found anywhere wild. 

The " lovi-lovi " is from Amboyna, and is like a large 
cherry, but acid; it makes very good jelly, similar to red 

The " rata-mora ** or litchi, also called the rambutan and 
nephelium {Dimocarpus litchi), is a celebrated Chinese fruit, 
growing in clusters on a stalk, and about the size of a walnut, 
of a reddish brown colour with a thick hairy skin ; when it is re- 
moved the fruit inside presents a yellow-white transparent appear- 
ance, and of an indescribable acid flavour. There is a stone in 
the centre. A wild variety of Nephelium called " mora gass," 
growing in the central province, produces a small crimson fruit 
eaten by the natives, and the nuts of the '' penella," (Sapendus 
emarginatvsy) are extensively used in Ceylon and India for 


washing clothes in place of soap. The fleshy part of the beny 
is viscid and semitransparent, and when mixed with water 
forms a frothy lather like soap. The bark and roots also 
possess the same property in a lesser degree. 

The belimbi {Carambola) a Malayan fruit, grows pendent on 
the tnmk of the tree below a few leaves. In form and sub- 
stance it is not unlike a small yellow cucumber, but angular, 
having eight sides, and full of an acid juice made into jellies 
and tarts. 

The small red mulberry (Morus indica), a native of Southern 
India, is a delightful fruit, rather rare in Ceylon. 

The " amba ** or mango (Mangifera indica), is a large and 
spreading tree like a walnut, bearing an oval-shaped friiit of a 
fine green colour with a thin smooth skin, and an orange- 
coloured pulp surrounding a large stone like that of a peach. 
Mangos are a fine fruit, but very variable in quality, being 
often full of tough fibres with a taste of turpentine, instead 
of a delicious soft pulp. Those grown at Jaffiia are the best 
in Ceylon. Mangos are very abundant among the lower 
jungles in a wild state. 

The " custard apple " {Anona muricata) and the sour sop 
{Anona sqxuimosa), both resemble artichokes in appearance and 
colour externally, but larger and flatter, with a thick and strong 
rind, enclosing a quantity of creamy pulp like a custard, eaten 
with a spoon, very sweet and luscious, with a slight taste of 
rose; the flowers of the Anona are very fragrant, and the leaves 
very obnoxious to insects, they come from the West Indies. 

Pomegranates, which are abundant, were introduced by the 
Portuguese. The " guava " (Psidium) is about the size of a 
hen's egg, of a yellow colour, with a red-coloured seedy pulp, 
having a sweet aromatic flavour something like a straw- 

The oranges of Ceylon are remarkable for retaining their 
green colour when perfectly ripe ; they are very full of juice, 
of excellent flavour, and have a very smooth and thin skin. 
There are also several varieties of mandarin oranges, some 
exceeding small, others very large ; the finiit are loose within 
the rind. 

BOTANY. 861 

The cashew nut (Afiacardium occidentale) is a sort of freak 
of nature in the vegetable world, for while all other kernels 
grow inside the pulp and are covered by it, this grows outside, 
the fiiiit and nut being distinct, yet joined together at the end. 
The fruit is like an Eve-apple, of a yellow colour, with an un- 
pleasant astringent taste. A spirit can be distilled from the 
juice when fermented, and is manufactured in the West Indies. 
The Dutch consider it superior to brandy as a "liqueur." 
The nut is a grey brown, enclosing a kernel the size and 
shape of a large kidney bean, tasting when roasted like a 
chestnut. The shell contains a very caustic poisonous oil, 
which stains the hands, and can be used for marking linen. 
The Sinhalese have been long awai'e that the oil of the cashew- 
nut is poisonous, which was proved by a case that occurred in 
the criminal courts of England about the year 1860 ; on this 
account the nut requu'es to be roasted before it is eaten. The 
tree is of medium height, and yields a quantity of gum resem- 
bling gum arabic. Paludanus, in his notes to Linschoten, 
says it was brought from Brazil to India (p. 94). 

The pine apple, one of the most abundant and cheapest 
fruits in the island, according to Linschoten was brought to 
India by the Portuguese from Brazil, where it was called 
ananafa or anas (p. 90). 

The commonest of the native fruits is the " kos or gedera " 
{Artocarpm integrifolm), and perhaps the largest fruit in the 
world, often weighing more than 40 lbs., two of them sus- 
pended at the end of a pingo being a usual load for a man 
to carry, and natives thus laden are frequently seen about 
Colombo. It grows pendent from the trunk of the tree, often 
near the roots, first appearing in the form of an ament or 
catkin, developing into an oval fruit with a coarse granular 
skin of a green colour, yellow inside, ftdl of soft fibres and 
kernels and a tenacious white juice. It has a very coarse 
flavour and odour, disagreeable to Europeans, who rarely eat it, 
but a great favourite with the natives, who also eat the kernels 
after they are roasted. 

Pliny has accurately described this tree, " putting forth fruit 
from its bark, a single one being enough for four persons.** 


Arbori nomen palse ariensey fiructum cortice inittit ... at 
uno quatemos satiet (xii. 12). His name for it is probably 
derived from the Tamil pila. The mediaeval travellers call it 
chaqui and baraki. The English term jak appears to be a 
corruption of " jaca," an Indian name. A variety of the jak 
(-4. lakoscha) produces a small roimd fruit, a species of bread 
fruit {A. incisa). When cut in slices and fried in butter, it 
tastes something like a half-raw potato. If the famous fruit 
of the South Sea Islands is not a great deal better, it does not 
deserve half the praises bestowed on it. 

The plantain or banana (Musa paradisia) is one of the 
wonders of tropical vegetation, from the rapidity of its growth, 
and prolificness. There are many varieties found in native 
gardens both in Ceylon and India, which all appear to be de- 
rived from the wild species Musa sapientum, the fruit of which 
is not eatable, found about rocky places in the central pro- 
vinces,^ and in the forests at Chittagong. The stem of the 
plantain is not in the least woody, being composed of the same 
substance as the succulent leaves, containing an enormous 
quantity of water and a good deal of useful fibre, which 
might be more used than it is. A variety M. texiles found 
in the Philippines, produces the well-known manilla hemp. 
The fruit, which hangs in one immense bunch, often weighing 
50 lbs., is rather insipid, but wholesome and nutritious, con- 
taining 40 per cent, of a farinaceous substance called plantaiu 
meal, composed of 86 per cent, of starch and sugar, and 6 
of protein compounds. It has been calculated that an acre 
of plantains would yield one ton of meal. In India the fruit 
is sliced and dried in the sun as a sweetmeat. 

The avocada pear {Persea gratissima), the shape of a 
ordinary pear, gi'een outside and yellow inside, comes from 
the West Indies ; also the granadillo (Passiflora edtUis), a 
purple or flesh-coloured water-melon. 

Grapes of good quality are grown at Jaffiia. Sir E. Tennent 
(i. 89) implies that the culture of grapes in Ceylon was un- 
successful, in consequence of the want of a winter, until Mr. 
Dyke in 1840 made an artificial one by removing the earth firom 

Thwaites, p. 321. 

BOTANY, 365 

the roots ; but grapes, said to have come from Jaffiia, were sold 
at Colombo in 1838. Many varieties of climbing plants re- 
sembling the grape vine, with very acrid leaves and bunches of 
uneatable fruit, some very small and nearly black, others pale 
red and the size of cherries, are found in the jungles of 
the lower part of the island ; among them is the Vitis indica, 
also very common in the Deccan and other parts of India* 
Dr. Hooker^ says, "the origin of the common vine being 
unknown, it becomes a curious question to decide whether the 
Himalayan Vitis indica is the wild state of that plant, an 
hypothesis strengthened by the fact of Bacchus having come 
from the East." 

Water plants. — The pools and tanks of Ceylon, in common 
with other tropical countries, are covered by superb pink and 
white water-lilies or lotus, whose broad green leaves float on 
the surface. They belong to two families, the Nymphaa and 
Nelnmhium. The Nymphaa lotus is the least common in the 
lower parts of the island, usually with white flowers, large 
cordate leaves, and a many-seeded fruit enclosed in a capsule. 
There are also two other varieties of Nymph(Ba, N. stellata, 
with stellate petals of a very pale blue colour, and N. rubra, a 
small red species found about Jaffiia. 

The Nymphcea possesses bitter, astringent, and some say 
narcotic properties. The roots contain a quantity of starch, 
used for food in India, as well as the seeds after being roasted* 
This appears to be the "Lotus -SIgyptica" described by 
Herodotus (lib. ii. 92, iv. 177), "growing above the waters 
of the Nile, the seeds of the flowers resembling those of the 
poppy, which the Egyptians made into a kind of bread, and also 
ate the root of the plant." According to modern travellers, 
the lotus has long disappeared from the waters of the Nile. 

The Nelumbium speciosum, found about Colombo and else- 
where, is a magnificent water-plant, with large attractive 
flowers, generally pink or rose colour, though some are white 
and yellow, diffusing a delightful fragrance, especially in the 
morning, when they rise with the sun above the surface of the 
water, under which they retire at night. They have only one 

' Himiila^a Jour., ii. 187 ; see also Boyle. 


seed — a nut resembling an olive or acorn — ^tasting like an 
almondy and containing a quantity of farinaceoas substance. 
Arrowroot prepared from them was shown in the Exhibition 
of 1851. The nuts are highly prized and eaten in Ceylon, 
India, China, and Japan : both roots and stalks also fonn 
articles of diet in India. The Nelumbium has been called 
the water-bean, the sacred bean, the Pythagorean bean, and 
the Egyptian bean, the kuamos, or red lotus of the ancients, 
whose fruit was compared by Theophrastus to a wasp's nest, 
and represented on the Egyptian monuments, also described 
by Herodotus as the rose lily of the Nile, with fruit the size of 
an olive-stone, eaten by the Egyptians both green and dried. 
Theophrastus further identifies it by mentioning the circum- 
stance of the flower retiring under water at night and rising 
with the sun. 

The lotus has been dedicated by the Buddhists to Sakya: 
the famous tooth at Kandy is placed on a golden lotus. It is 
also the most sacred of flowers among the Hindus, and a 
popular emblem of beauty, constantly alluded to in their poems 
and romances. The red lotus is fabled to have been dyed by 
the blood of Siva, when he was wounded by the arrow of 
'' Kamadeva," and is depicted on all the brass vessels used in 
their temples.^ Commentators have had some difficulty in 
identifying the various plants referred to by classical authors 
under the name of lotus. Fee, in his "Flore de Virgil," 
enumerates eleven plants to which the term has been applied. 
The word used by Herodotus has a double signification, 
meaning also sea-onion, and some think it was the lotus 
which the Israelites were repining after in the desert, rendered 
leeks in the English version; others have thought that the 
lotus of the Nile was the fabulous food of the Lotophagi, " of 
so delicious a description, that when strangers had once tasted 
it they no longer wished to return to their native country." 
The Lotophagi of Africa are described by Herodotus as eating 
a fruit similar to the date, and also made into wine. Mr. 
Lindley says, the lote bush {Zizyphus lotm), which gave its 
name to the Lotophagi, is to this day collected for food by the 

» Wilson, "Hindu Theatre.*' 

BOTANY. 365 

Arabs of Barbary. There are many varieties in different parts 
of the world used as food.^ {Vide ch. xxxv.) Dioseorides and 
Pliny describe a lotus supposed to be a variety of the ebony, 
producing a fruit which caused oblivion. 

Many species of Utrictdaria, or bladder worts, are common 
on the waters of paddy-fields and tanks in warm parts of the 
island, charming little plants with radiate leaves, and yellow, 
blue, or white flowers, both large and small; a bladder, or 
inflated appendage, attached to their roots enables them to 
float about on the surface of the water during a certain period, 
after which the bladder bursts and they fall to the bottom, 
where they again take root. The Pinguicula, one of the Euro- 
pean bladder-worts, is said to give consistence to milk in 
Sweden, and is a common marsh plant in England. Another 
equally curious and pretty aquatic plant, the '' gass-nidi- 
koomba " (Neptunia oleracea), very common on shallow water 
and borders of tanks, has highly sensitive leaves, which close 
at the touch like the Mimosa, and floats on the water by means 
of a light spongy substance forming part of it, only taking root 
when the water dries up. It is also known by the name of 
Desmanthus natans, and found in India. 

Cyperacea, or sedges, usually growing in moist places in 
tufts, are sometimes enlarged at the roots into bulbs and 
tubers. Some varieties grow on dry sand, as the Carex arenaria 
of sand dunes. Mr. Thwaites enumerates nearly eighty 
varieties growing all over the island, from the sands of Batti- 
caloa to the elevated plains of Newera EUia and Horton, on 
the banks of rivers, in paddy fields, and swampy places. The 
tropical species are generally very different from those of 
northern countries. The tubers of some are eaten in India. 
"Kalian dooros*' (C rotundus), a variety abundant in culti- 
vated land, has very aromatic tubers, used medicinally by the 
Sinhalese, and for making hair washes by Hindu ladies. The 
tubers are about the size of pigeon's eggs. 

Trapa bispinosa, a floating aquatic plant found in the 
tanks, forms an important article of diet in Kashmir, being 
obtained from their lakes, and said to have yielded a revenue 

1 " Vegetable Kingdom," p. 856. 


of 12,000Z. per annum to Eunjet Singh.^ The fruit is called the 
Singara nut in India. T, bispinosa, as its name implies, is 
distinguished by two projecting spines. Trapa are found in 
Siberia and Cochin China. The Chinese variety, T. bicomi^, 
resembles the head of a bullock with the horns turned down- 
wards. T. natana, the European species, is called the matron 
d'eau by the French, and is mentioned by Pliny as forming the 
food of the ancient Thracians. 

Orchidacece are epiphjrtal plants, usually growing upon 
trees, clinging by their long succulent roots to the naked 
branches, deriving their nourishment from the humid atmo- 
sphere of deep shady forests where the hot vapours cannot 
ascend. In these situations the number of orchids is extra- 
ordinary, abounding in the southern jungles about Adam's 
Peak. Tropical orchids are mostly of the species which grow 
on trees, but many are found in Ceylon among grass. In the 
southern parts they are often attached to the trunks of cocoa^ 
nut trees in gardens with pieces of matting, diffusing an 
exquisite fragrance; among them is said to be the variety 
which yields the vanilla of the perfumers. Everywhere the 
flowers of orchids assume the most grotesque and eccentric 
forms, having little likeness to any part of the vegetable king- 
dom, bearing more resemblance to animals. One called the 
** Spirito Santo " by the natives of Panama (Periateriu elata), 
resembling a dove alighting on a flower, has its counterpart in 
the *' Sudu parajeya mal" of the Sinhalese {Liparis atropur- 
purea).^ The Disperis tripetaloidea, a very curious species 
found near Kambodde, is not unlike the head of an owl, having 
pink flowers with a yellow lip. Satyrium nepalense has some 
resemblance to a child's doll. *' Oberonia ScyUa is a most 
remarkable looking thing, with minute crimson flowers like a 
bunch of red tongues thrust from a mask resembling a gorgon."' 
Perhaps the most beautiful of Ceylon orchids is the " wanna 
raja " {AruBctochilus setacem), very common in marshy places 
about Negumbo ; it has a delicate white flower on a pink stalk, 
with cordate leaves resembling black velvet, marked with gold 

' Roylc. ' Wight's Icones, Dendrobium crumincUumf Moon. 

» Lindley, p. 499. 

BOTAXY. 367 

on the upper surface like a butterfly's wing, the under part 
being a pale lake colour. A variety named **eeru raja" 
{Monochilm regius) has two white stripes on the leaves. 
Ccehgyne odoratisaimus, found at Newera Ellia and the Nil- 
gherries on trees, has very fragrant pure white flowers, growing 
in dense tufts about six inches high. 

Fungi and Lichens. — These are very abundant in Ceylon. 
It is said few of the fungi can be identified with those described 
by Dr. Hooker in the Himalaya. Some of the genus Agaricus 
are very singular and beautiful, being clothed in brilliant 
colours — scarlet and yellow ; one is allied to a Jersey species 
{yalvaria). Edible mushrooms are numerous — as Agaricus 
deliciosus, A, campestris, and A. Georgii with white foldets, 
found on the plains of Hambantota. One hundred and ninety- 
nine species of lichens with orange, yellow, and blue colours, 
growing on trees in the higher regions up to 8000ft., have been 

Plants of the North. — A few baobab trees (Adansonia digi- 
tata) are found about Manaar, supposed to have been brought 
there from Africa at some remote period. They are also 
found at Tutocorin, Guzerat, and other parts of Western 
India. Baobabs are among the largest trees in the world, 
those at Manaar measuring upwards of thirty feet in circum- 
ference, though not quite so high ; a shapeless mass of useless 
wood with few branches or leaves, and are probably a thousand 
years old, if we are to judge from the observations of the 
traveller Adanson, who was enabled to ascertain with cer- 
tainty that a baobab in the Cape de Verde Islands increased 
about one foot in diameter during a year.^ 

The Salvadoria Perska, a good-sized tree discovered near 
the sea coast by Dr. Gardner, is interesting on account of its 
having been shown by Dr. Royle in his " Antiquity of Hindu 
Medicine " to be the mustard tree of scripture, the chardul of 
the Talmud and kharzal of the Arabs. It has bright green 
leaves and small reddish seeds, with an aromatic odour and 
pungent taste, similar to garden cress. The seeds are said to 
be used in Arabia and other eastern countries as a substitute 

' De CandoUe; Lindley, Yeg. Kingd., p. 204. 


for mustard, and the acrid bark in India by native doctors, for 
blistering. It grows near Jerusalem, and obviously answers 
the description of the tree mentioned in Mark (ch. iv. 81), much 
more than the mustard plant. 

Many varieties of Aurdntiacece, to which belong the lemon, 
shaddock, citron, and orange, are found, chiefly in the dry- 
parts of the island. They all possess very fragrant properties, 
with white flowers. The fruit of most of them in the wild 
state are not much larger than a pea. Limonia pentapkyUa 
produces a very small crimson-coloured fruit. Some varieties 
are scandent, as the Limonia scandens, others are armed with 
large thorns. The leaves of "karapinchu" (Bergera kcenigii) 
are used as a seasoning for curries in Ceylon and India, and 
form part of the ingredients of " chutnies." The leaves are 
also considered a remedy for dysentery in India.^ The JSgle 
Mamiehs produces a fruit resembling a large orange, with a 
similar perfume, variously called the Bengal quince, bel fruit, 
and Indian bael ; it is eaten by the natives, and has long been 
in high repute as a remedy for dysentery and diarrhoea. The 
medical properties are strongest in the half-ripe finit ; a fra- 
grant liquor called marmata-water is extracted from the flowers. 
It also }delds an oil and a gum resembling arable. A variety 
is called the " diwool gass" (Feronia elephantum). 

Acacias. — These beautiful trees present many varieties, 
chiefly found in the dry sandy districts of the north ; most of 
them are also natives of the Coromandel. Some of the acacia 
barks possess astringent and tonic properties, and are be- 
coming valuable for tanning purposes. Several yield useful 
gums, and the larger trees fine and durable timber. The 
"rat-kihiri" (A. catechu) is used in India for making a kind 
of terra Japonica by boiling chips of the wood in water. An • 
infusion of the same is much esteemed by the Sinhalese as a 
purifier of the blood, and drinking cups are often made of it.^ 
A. arabica yields a gum resembling that of the A. vera, or 
true gum arabic, and the bark is used medicinally. A. latro- 
num is a straggling shrub, armed with formidable spikes two 
or three inches long, of a white colour, growing in pairs at 

* Royle. Thwaites. 


each joint. They are called bufilEdo thorns from their resem- 
blance to the horns of a bullock. 

Melia Azadirachta, fomid near Trincomalee, has been called 
the Persian lilac, and the flowers of many Meliacea resemble 
the lilac. The " kohomba ** or margoso {Azadirachta indica) 
is a medium-sized tree found in the driest part of the island. 
A bitter fixed oil (largely exported) is extracted from the nuts, 
the size and shape of an olive, which grow in clusters, and a 
gum with an odour of garlic exudes from the bark. The juice 
and leaves are used by the Sinhalese as a cattle medicine. 
Every part of the tree, especially the bark, is very bitter and 
astringent, and much employed by Indian doctors as a tonic 
and febrifuge. Dr. Wight of Bombay considered it equal to 
cinchona. The bark and roots of the " bin kohomba " 
{Munronia pumila, Thw.), another tree of the same family 
found in the south, are much valued by the Sinhalese as a 

Plants of the shores. — The " cadol " or mangrove {Rhizo* 
phora) is a striking feature in the tropical landscape wherever 
there is a shallow and muddy shore, especially near the mouths 
of rivers, forming a dense jungle, a favourite resort of croco- 
diles and mosquitoes. The most curious part of the mangrove 
is the aerial germination of its seeds, which do not drop from 
the parent stem until they have assumed the form of embryo 
trees, and their roots ready to fix in the mud. The mangrove 
also spreads itself over the swamp after the manner of the 
banyan, throwing out roots from the stem at some distance 
above the mud, and arching downwards, fix in it ; these again 
send out fresh roots spreading round the tree in all directions, 
an example of the wonderful provision of nature to the pecu- 
liar circumstances of position, for without all these roots it 
could not stand up in the loose mud and sand it loves to grow 
in. There are many varieties of mangrove in India, the 
Archipelago, and Ceylon ; the most common in the island is 
the leafy mangrove {R. mucronata), the bark is considered 
better than oak for tanning. -R. gymnorhiza, found on the 
southern coast, covers the delta of the Ganges, producing a hard 
and durable yellow-coloured wood called fire-wood mangrove 



by the Malays, which bums with a vivid light and sulphnrons 
smell.^ A valuable chocolate-coloured dye made from the 
common or black mangrove (R. Mangle), was introduced by 
Dr. Bancroft; the bark is also used in tanning and as a 

Another very remarkable tree of the sea shores are the screw 
pines (Pandanacece) ; they also have a number of aerial arching 
roots to enable them to hold up in the loose soil where they 
grow, and were named by Linnaeus, from the Malay pandang, 
meaning conspicuous, having long, rigid, sword-shaped leaves, 
resembling those of a pine-apple, arranged in a spiral manner 
round the trunk, which is surmounted by a mass of amber- 
coloured uneatable fruit the shape of a pine cone. The leaves 
contain a quantity of tough and glossy white fibres. The 
" moodo kaeyeya '* (Pandanus odoratissimus) is named from 
the exquisite perfume of its yellow flowers which yield the 
*' attar of keora," much esteemed in all Asiatic countries, and 
constantly referred to by the Sanskrit writers under the name 
of ketaka. The Arabs call it kazee and Avicenna armak. Oil 
impregnated with the attar is valued as a medical stimulant in 
India,^ and the natives of Ceylon used the aerial roots medi- 

The " gin pol " or water cocoa-nut (Nipafruticans), common 
in the mangrove swamps of the south, is a low stemless plant 
-with pale green feathery leaves and large clusters of small nuts 
having the appearance of a dwarf palm, but classed by botanists 
with the screw pines. It is also a native of India and the 
Archipelago, usually flourishing in brackish water alongside of 
the mangrove, and abounds in saccharine sap resembling palm 
toddy, which is extracted as an article of diet in Burmah. 
This plant is interesting to geologists on account of the nuts of 
a similar species having been found in the tertiary formations of 
the island of Sheppy at the mouth of the Thames.^ Mr. 
Thwaites mentions only one variety in Ceylon, but they are 
numerous in India. 

^ Mason. 
^ Royle. Simmonds. ' Roylc, p. 36, ** Fib. Plants." 

* Thwiitea. » Himal. Jour., p. 1. 

BOTANY. 371 

The Cycadacea, small palm-like trees or shrubs, very 
numerous in the delta of the Ganges, Australia, Japan, and 
Burmah, have only one representative in Ceylon — Cycas cird- 
nails, "maddoo** of the natives, who make cakes from the seeds, 
which they use medicinally. All the Cycades contain a mucila- 
ginous juice full of starch, made an article of diet in some 
Eastern coimtries. 

Along the marshy banks of rivers near the coast about Ne- 
gumbo and other southern places, there are many " gedde 
killala " (Sanneratia acida), large handsome trees with thick 
leaves and solitary flowers, producing an acid, globular fruit. 
The roots spread out to a great distance, throwing up curious 
spindle-shaped excrescences several feet above the surface, 
having a corky substance easily pierced with a pin, hence called 
the cork tree by Europeans.^ It abounds in the Tenasserim 
mangrove swamps as far as the tidal waters reach, and is said 
to be a better substitute for coal in steamers than any other 
kind of wood.^ 

The Acantluis ilicifolius, a handsome shrub like holly, with 
dark flowers, is common near the sea ; also near Galle the 
Hemandia sonoria, very tall trees, having the seed enclosed in 
a large inflated calyx with an aperture in it through which the 
wind whistles in a peculiar manner. The kernel is oily and 
purgative, also the bark and young leaves, and the juice a 
powerful depilatory. 

Some species of Barringtonia are found near the mouths of 
rivers and warm humid situations on the southern sea shore, 
and inland up to an elevation of 1500 feet ; very handsome trees, 
with dark green shining leaves and large showy flowers, with 
an immense number of stamens growing in a circular manner, 
producing a large and angular seed with a hard skin. " Deya 
midella " (B, speciosa) has white petals edged with crimson, 
and " ella midella '* (J5. acutangxdum) long pendulous racemes 
of scarlet flowers; the seeds are used by Indian doctors* 
Barringtonia are quite a tropical family of plants. 

The " neyangalla *' or Qlorioaa superba, a species of lily, is 
a very curious and splendid creeping plant remarkable for its 

> Rumphlus, Dr. TempletoD, J. £nt Soc, iiL 802. ' Mason. 

E B 2 


magnificent flame-coloured, drooping flowers, the petals, 
stamens, and style turn and grow upwards, like a flower turned 
inside out, while the leaves prolong their extremities into ten- 
drils. It is fond of the sea shore and is also coninion in thick 
jungles of the interior, and in the Tenasserim provinces and 
Malabar, but is rather rare in other parts of India. The bul* 
bous roots are supposed in Ceylon to be poisonous. 

Two very fragrant shrubs with white flowers are not uncom- 
mon on the sea shore about Galle and Caltura. The *^ nil 
pitcha ** {Guettarda speciosa) has large flowers always in bloom, 
which are dedicated by the Hindus to Seva and Vishnu. The 
JEgiceras fragrans has a profusion of small flowers blooming 
periodically, and is a great favourite with fire-flies. 

Some varieties of salt worts which yield soda and barilla 
when burnt are common on the sands of Jaffiia and the southern 
coasts, as the Salicoma brachiata and Salsola indica, a smaU 
weed with linear-shaped leaves, much eaten by Hindus who 
live near the sea, and considered very wholesome.^ 

The "moodo-gatta colla " (Hydrophylax maritima) is a 
straggling herbaceous plant with succulent leaves and stalks, 
and pale lilac blossoms, very common on the Galle face, Colombo 
and other sandy places, also in the Coromandel ; spreading 
over the surface it strikes out roots at every joint and binds 
the sand together, along with a species of sword bean, and a 
variety of the old genus Dolichos, called "wal awara" (CanavaUa 
obtudfolia), having pretty fragrant blossoms, the young pods 
are used as a vegetable in India. Under the general term of 
Dolichos, Linnaeus included a number of twining tr ; ical 
legimiinous plants, some of which are edible like the kidney 
beans of Europe, since divided by botanists into several famihes. 
2>. florus is similar to the black gram of the Coromandel 
coast, eaten by the Hindus. The Canavalia gladiatus, or 
sword bean, is only found in the north ; they have large showy 
flowers, and in India, where they are cultivated, the pods attain 
a length of two feet. 

Several species of Phaseolus, the scarlet runners and kidney 
beans of Europe, are common both in India and Ceylon, where 

^ Roxburgh. 

BOTAirx; 373 

they are called " wal-maa." The roots of some are supposed 
to be narcotic and poisonous. The three-lobed kidney bean 
is very common. 

The Ouazuma tomentosa, a tree found about Jaffiia, is 
probably not indigenous, being a native of South America, and 
was introduced into India about seventy years since, where it 
is known as gun-stock wood. A fibrous substance found 
between the bark and wood, containing a quantity of mucilage, 
is used in clearing sugar. It is allied to the chocolate-tree, 
and has a tuberculated fruit the size of a cherry. Another of 
the same family, found at Badulla, closely resembles Kydia 
calycina, Roxb.^ 

The " saayana," or chay root (Oldenlandia urnbeUatd) is 
very abundant near the sea, particularly about Manaar, and is 
also a native of the Coromandel, Java, and Mexico. The root, 
which is long and of an orange colour, furnishes an excellent 
red dye for cotton, similar to munjeet, or Indian madder (Rubia 
munjeet), used to a great extent in Southern India for dyeing 
the celebrated red turbans of Madura. This dye deserves a 
better reputation in Europe than it possesses, being, according 
to the report of the jury of the Exhibition of 1851, nearly 
equal to madder. Dr. Bancroft, who made his experiments 
with a sample of damaged roots, had previously given a dis- 
couraging account of it. However, there appears to be some 
difficulty in transporting it to Europe, as it deteriorates rapidly 
in the hold of a ship, or in any dark place.' 

During the time of the Dutch it was largely exported firom 
the island, and still figures among the exports. The chay is a 
low-growing biennial plant, with nimierous small white leaves, 
having a bitter and unpleasant taste, used medicinally for 
diseases of the chest. Wild chay root yields, it is said, one 
third more colour than the cultivated. 

Some curious gramineous plants are found on the sands, 
such as the Spinifex squarrosus, whose seeds are contained in 
a circular head some inches in diameter, composed of spines 
which radiate from a centre, by which means it rolls over the 

> Thwaites. ' Bancroft on Colonn^ p. 282. 


soil, disseminating its seeds.^ Panicum squarrosum has a 
peculiar shaped seed. 

The Aristohchia, a family of small half herbaceous, half 
climbing plants, with cordate leaves, also found in India, are 
remarkable for their bitter and medicinal properties, used for 
snake bites and diarrhoea. 

Several species of Tamarisks are foimd in marshy places of 
the western coast, small glabrous shrubs, with numerous 
branches and pink or white flowers. Tamarisks are common 
in India and other warm parts of the world, growing on the 
shores of the Mediterranean. 

The " at nairenchee," or prickly-fniited pedalium, P. murex, 
is a large succulent plant, with small yellow flowers, very 
common near the sea. The fresh leaves when agitated in water 
have the strange property of rendering it mucilaginous without 
altering the colour, taste, or smell of the Uquid. When water 
in a basin is thickened in this way, it can be taken out in a 
mass like jelly, but becomes liquid again in a few hours. It is 
used in Ceylon and India for fraudulently thickening milk, and 
has medicinal properties well known in the peninsula, where it 
is called " caca mullen." The property of turning water into 
a clear jelly is also foimd in the young leaves of the Sterculia 
urens, which contain a quantity of mucilage, and Linnaeus has 
described the effect produced on milk by Pinguicula. The 
*' tolabo " (Crinum Asiaticum), a species of Ajnaryllidacea, 
with narrow succulent leaves, two or three feet long, and a 
bulbous root, very abundant on the sea coast, is used as a fence 
for the native gardens, and the bulbs of a variety called *' wal 
loono," C. Zeylanica, are used medicinally.^ 

Plants of the highest hills. — Two or three species of ranunculus 
(-R. sagittifolius and R. Wallichianus), are foimd in the swamps 
about Newera EUia, the Horton plains, and other elevated 
places. The ranunculus family, named after rana, a frog, from 
their inhabiting the same places, are all characteristic of a cold, 
damp climate. When found within the tropics, they are usually 
Been in high mountain regions. One of the Ceylon varieties 

* Tennent. « Thwaites. 

BOTANY. 375 

grows in the Nilgherries, and nearly one hundred are natives 
of the Himalayas. 

As an exception to this rule, a very pretty species, with 
a yellow flower, termed Naravelia zeylanica, after the native 
name, is found in the warm parts of the island, and also in 
southern Tenasserim. 

The ranunculus family, to which belong the buttercups of 
England, are all more or less poisonous, some exceedingly so, 
as the hellebore and aconite. The celebrated Indian poison, 
'* Bish or Bikh," is made from the root of Aconitum ferox. 

An anemone, A. rivularis, with white flowers, found at 
Newera EUia, is also a native of northern India, and a clematis 
(C Gouriana), a climbing perennial, common in the Ghauts 
and Deccan. C. smilacifolia, with purple flowers, is found 
about Ambagamowa. Many of the clematis are handsome 
Bcandents found in all parts of the world. 

Several species of Michelia, a variety of Magttolia, are found 
in the upper central province. Magnohas are numerous in 
China, large and beautiful trees, with showy fitigrant blossoms 
and glossy leaves. 

Campanula fidgens, a very erect plant, having a hairy stem 
about a foot high, covered with pretty serrated drooping 
flowers, is occasionally met with, " but are very common in the 
Nilgherries after rain in shady places." ^ Campantda, or bell 
worts, are rare in tropical regions. One or two are found in 
the Himalaya, and some curious species are natives of the 
Canaries.^ Wahlenbergia agrestis, a kind of campanula, with 
a blue flower, is abundant in elevated grassy places ; also 
found in similar localities in the Nilgherries. 

Two very tall lobeUas (L. aromatica and L. excelsa),^ both 
having a pyramid six feet high of pale yellow flowers, tinged 
with lilac, and very long pointed leaves, are foimd at Newera 
Ellia and the Nilgherries. A variety (L. trigona), with 
serrated leaves, blue flowers, and a triangular stem, is found 
all over the island. These plants, called " ros nee " by the 
natives, belong to an extensive order containing manj 

* Wight's Icones. ' Lindley. 

» Wight's Iconea, No. 1170. 


varieties of considerable beauty, all more or less poisonons, 
though some are used medicinally. L. Umgiflora, of the West 
Indies, is very fetal to horses who eat it. 

The " mah-rat-mal " (R. arboreum), the finest of the rhodo- 
dendrons, is the only variety in Ceylon, where it attains the 
dimensions of a large tree. There is a forest of them on the 
Tottapella mountains, growing from fifty to seventy feet high, 
with stems three feet in diameter. Shododendron flowers and 
honey are said to be narcotic and dangerous in some places. 
Dr. Hooker attributes this property to the honey of Nepal, and 
the poisonous symptoms described by Xenophon, " when men 
fell stupefied in all directions, covering the gi*ound with their 
bodies as if a battle had occurred," have been attributed by 
some to the JS. ponticum, and by others to the Azalea pontica. 
The flowers of R. arboreum are said to be eaten by the hill 
tribes of India, and no poisonous properties are supposed to 
exist in those of Ceylon. 

Gaultheria are represented by the " kappooroo " (G. fragran- 
tissima), an ornamental shrub with red flowers and blue berries, 
found in the highest parts of the central province ; also in 
Nepal. Oavltheria are natives of the Andes and Japan. 

Vacdnum Leschenaulti, an abundant Nilgherry arboraceous 
plant, producing acid berries the size of red currants, and 
tasting like cranberries, is found at Newera EUia. Dr. 
Hooker mentions Vacdnum in the Himalayas at an elevation of 
4000 feet. The different species of whortleberry, bilberry, and 
cranberry belong to this family. The " welambella " {Embelia, 
Linn.) is a diffuse shrub, remarkable for the venation of the 
leaves, when dry, forming a network of white lines.^ 

Three species of Hex, allied to the holly, grow in the 
highest elevations. One of this family (J. Paraguensis) yields 
the beverage called mate, or Paraguay tea. Thunbei^ 
found a variety in Japan. Some Ilex barks have tanning 

Many species of Symphcedef arboraceous plants, with white 
flowers resembling those of a blackberry, are found in the 

' E. ribes, Bunnan. 

BOTANY. 377 

higher elevations. They nearly all possess an astringent 
property in the leaves, and some are employed for dyeing red 
and yellow in India and Thibet. The " bombu " (S. spicata), 
which grows in the lower parts of the island, has a hard 
pitcher-shaped berry. 

A very beautiful species of Jessamine («7. humile), with 
acacia-shaped leaves and fragrant yellow flowers, a native of 
the Nilgherries, is found on the elephant plains, and a very 
pretty species of Ceropegia (C Gardneri) grows about Kambodde. 
This is a curious genus of creeping plant, the flower forming a 
narrow neck, budging out again at both ends. The colours are 
various, many varieties being found in the island. 

There are several varieties of Melastomacea, very beautiful 
herbaceous plants or shrubs, which produce dark coloured 
edible berries that stain or dye. Some are epiphytal plants, 
festooning the trees of the higher regions. Osbeckia have 
many representatives and are very numerous about Adam's 
Peak. Varieties are found with purple, yellow, and other 
coloured flowers. Pdchycentria are a scandent family found by 
Dr. Gardner about Rambodde and Adam's Peak. P. WaUceri 
Thw., climbs the stems and branches of trees like ivy, "covering 
them in May and June with large rose-coloured blossoms, 
being one of the most lovely plants in the island." ^ MedineUa 
fuchsioides Gard., found on trees at Newera Ellia, has 
petals half white, half crimson, and a deep purple berry. 
M. macvlata is a half scandent branchy shrub, about two feet 
high, with small rose-coloured flowers and a globular berr}'. 
Memeqfhn are quite a tropical species, closely resembling 
Myrtacea, presenting many varieties having blue flowers and 
berries, not altogether confined to the mountains. The leaves 
of M. edule, also found on the Coromandel coast, form a very 
astringent dye. 

In the higher regions are found some species of Ckristisonia 
of Gardner, a variety of Orobancluicea, an order of parasitical 
leafless plants, growing up along with others on whom they 
live, to which belong the broomworts of Europe. It is said 

> Thwaites, "Medinella Walk," Gaitlner, Calcutta, J. Nat. Hirt., viiL 11. 


the seeds of some will lie inert in the earth for an indefinite 
period when not in the vicinity af those they attach themselves 
to.^ C. grandiflora is a large hlossomed variety found on the 
roots of Acanthacea. Nothing can exceed the beauty of its 
rose-coloured flowers growing in clusters. They are very 
numerous between Ratnapura and Adam's Peak. C. tricolor, 
as its name implies, has charmingly variegated flowers of red, 
pale pink, and bright yellow. C. bicolor is brick-red and 
yellow, and C unicolor all yellow. 

BalanpJwra iiidica is another cmious leafless parasite, 
growing on the stems of trees, and producing woody knots. 
No use is made of them in Ceylon, but Dr. Hooker mentions 
that in the Sikkim Himalaya and Thibet the knots of 
Balanphoracece are turned in a lathe and formed into Httle 
drinking cups, highly valued by the inhabitants, who suppose 
them to be antidotes to poison. Dr. Hooker gave a guinea for 
one (p. 47). 

Photenia notoniana is a kind of hawthorn, or an allied plant 
resembling P. integrifolia of Lindley. P. glabra, a variety 
found in China, has red berries. Photenia have been found in 
Rangoon, and Dr. Hooker mentions one in Nepal, (P. dnbia,) 
used in dyeing scarlet. They are a subtribe of Rosacea, to 
which belong apples and quinces. 

Several species of brambles and wild raspberries are found 
about Newera Ellia, Adam's Peak, and high altitudes. 
Rugosm are also known at Mahabaleshwar in the Malabar 
hills, and a yellow-fruited bramble in the Himalayas. Dr. 
Gardner says there are several beautiful and distinct species 
of Rubus in the mountains, quite different from those in the 
Nilgherries. One produces a large black fruit six inches in 
diameter.^ Rulnts lasiocarpus grows both on the hills and 
southern coast ; also in Mysore. 

Pimpinella Leschenaulti, with white flowers, growing on the 
Horton plains, is a variety of the anise of the druggists. 
Among other European plants found in the mountains is a 
species of leek or chive (Allium Hookeri, Thw.), two species 

^ Lindley. ' Calcutta J. Nat. Hist, riiL 

BOTANT. 379 

of j uncus or rushes in swampy places, Viburnum, allied to 
the guelder rose ; (V, optdus,) one of the teazles ; (Dipsacus 
Walkeri,) Valeriana Hardwickii, and two varieties of primrose, 
Lyslmachia ramosa and L. japonica. Primroses are very rare 
in the tropics, and only found in the mountains. L. LeS' 
chenaulti, a red-blossomed variety, grows in the Nilgherries. 
Arvensis carulea, a blue-flowered anagallis, with serrated 
edges, grows in the Uva district and Nilgherry com fields. 
The Indian plant is much more luxuriant than the European. 
The anagallis is poisonous. Orfila destroyed a dog with three 
drachms of extract. Linum mysorensis, a variety of flax, with 
pale orange flowers,^ is abundant at Badulla. L. tutitatissimum, 
or common flax, is a native of India. 

Two varieties of Gordonia EUis, large trees forty or fifty 
feet high, with coriaceous leaves and reddish purple flowers, 
are found in the forests of the higher central province. They 
belong to the same family as the tea plant and camellias of 

Balsaminea are found in the greatest profusion in damp, 
shady jungles, where the temperature is not very high. Mr. 
Thwaites eniunerates twenty-two varieties, chiefly with purple, 
red, or scarlet flowers, a few having white and red. They are 
all remarkable for great size, and the elastic force of the seed 
capsules, which burst when ripe with the least touch, hence they 
have been called " noli me tangeri." 

Some of the tropical Aralias, to which family belong the ivies 
of Europe, are large trees, as the Hedera exalta, Thw. Others 
are scandents, as the H. emarginata of Moon, having white 
flowers tinged with red, and the " Itta," (J/, valdii, Thw.,) 
very abundant up to an elevation of 8000 feet, the only species 
found in the lower country. It yields a resin having a smell 
of turpentine. Most of the Aralias contain resin. Chinese 
ginsen comes from one, and are all supposed to be poisonous, 
but Dr. Hooker describes the inhabitants of the Sikkim 
mountains as cutting the leaves of various species of these 
plants for their cattle. He was also struck by the resemblance 

^ Thwaites. 


between the pith of some and the celebrated rice paper of the 
Chinese, and came to the conclusion that it was made from 
them, an opinion afterwards confirmed by the receipt of the 
plants from China, now named A. papyrifera} 

^ Jonr., p. 386. 



The plants described in this chapter belong mostly to the 
lower regions, extending some distance np the mountains. 

Urticac££. — Some tropical members of the genus Urtica, 
or nettle, attain a gigantic size, being fifteen feet high, and 
contain very useful fibres : China grass cloth is made from 
those of Boehmeria nivea. Many varieties of Urtica are found 
in the damp forests, including three species of Boehmeria, 
''maha deya dool" of the Sinhalese, who make fish-lines from 
them, also from Urtica longifolia. The '' kahambiliya " {U. 
pteraphylla, Moon) was also found in the Nepal by Dr. Hooker 
at an elevation of 8000 feet along with other species, made 
into cords and cloth by the inhabitants (ii. 148 — 173). The 
common stinging-nettle of Europe (U. stimvlans) is likewise 
found in Ceylon. 

Artocarpa4:ea. — ^Nearly all the trees of this family, to which 
belong the edible fig and Indian-rubber (Fictis elastica), 3rield 
a milky juice more or less adhesive and elastic when conso- 
Udated; ilways acrid and often poisonous. This property, 
however, generaUy disappears from their fruits when ripe. 

The " ritta grass " {Antiari^ innoxia, Thw.) is a gigantic 
and remarkable variety, called the sack tree in India (A. saccU 
daria), from the circumstance of sacks being made from the 
bark, which are used for carrying rice and other purposes both 
in Ceylon and India. They are made by cutting oflf a piece of 
branch or trunk the desired circumference and soaking it well 
in water. It is then beaten with clubs until the bark separates 
from the wood, leaving a part untouched at one end, the sepa- 
rated bark is then turned down and the wood sawn off, leaving 


a slice which forms the bottom. The " ritta gass " was mis- 
taken by Dr. Gardner (who discovered it at Komagalla in 
1840) for the celebrated Upas tree ^ of Java (Antiaris toxi- 
caria), which does not grow in Ceylon, but is of the same 
family. The Upas has been rendered notorious in consequence 
of the strange statements concerning it made about the year 
1780 by Foerch, a surgeon of the Dutch East India Com- 
pany, who stated, *' so deadly were the emanations from it that 
out of seven hundred criminals sent to collect the poison scarcely 
two out of twenty returned, and that for fifteen or eighteen 
miles round the tree no living animal of any kind had ever 
been discovered.'' Dr. Horsfield and Leschenault have 
shown that this account is quite fabulous ; the i)oison has 
been brought to Europe and analyzed, and found to be less 
active than that of the cobra. It is a bitter yellow fluid flow- 
ing from incisions made in the bark, and similar in its pro- 
perties to strychnine. 

The " maha nooga " or banyan tree {Fwus indica) has been 
called the " Thug " of the vegetable world, fi-om their stran- 
gling as they grow old the trees that sustain them in their 
infancy. Their manner of development is very curious and 
singular, making their appearance in the form of a slender 
shoot hanging down from a moist angle among the branches 
or a hollow in the bark of some other tree, where the seeds 
carried by birds have been dropped and sprouted ; the shoot 
on reaching the ground takes root there, and throws out fresh 
shoots, the whole growing into a cylindrical trunk round the 
supporting tree, eventually destroying it. (Vide ch. xxxii.) 

None of the banyans in Ceylon are to be compared to those 
of India, such as the famous Nerbudda tree, which is said to 
have three thousand aerial roots, and to be capable of shelter- 
ing as many men. The banyan produces a reddish fruit 
resembling the edible fig. Also the "Bo gaha " of the 
Sinhalese, '* Pei-to " of the Chinese, and " Bodhi '' of the 
Sanskrit (Ficus reUgiosa), an object of great veneration among 
Buddhists {t'ide ch. vii.), and has some resemblance to the 

^ A very elaborate account of the Upas is given by Mr. Bennet in Horsfield*8 
''Planta Javanica Rariores/' p. 52. 

BOTANY. 383 

aspen-Ieaved poplar. The leaves have wavy edges and long 
slender stalks, and being agitated by the least breath of air are 
usually in motion, " according to the natives in honour of 
Buddha." It is said that the Syrian Christians account for a 
similar trembling movement in the leaves of the aspen from 
the circumstance of the "Cross" haAing been made from the 
wood of this tree. The bo and most of the tropical fig family 
germinate like the banyan on other trees or old buildings, ' 
their numerous roots winding through the crevices till they 
reach the earth, eventually forming a trunk ; but it is not the 
true stem, as that grows upwards from the place of germi- 
nation. The roots of the Fie us elastica are very curious, 
looking like a mass of writhing snakes. Some fine specimens 
are found in the island, but are thought not to be indigenous. 

The ** nettol *' (Fiats paralitica, Thw.) ^ has a resemblance 
to the ivy creeping over rocks and old buildings. 

The " gooranda " {Celtis dysacloxylon) has been named from 
the very ofi'ensive odour which proceeds from the wood when 
it is cut. C. orientale is a variety also found on the Garrow 
hills, India, where clothing is made from the bark. 

Peperace.e are scandent plants possessing pungent pro- 
I)erties, owing to an acrid principle called piperin. " Gam 
meris,** or common black pepper {Piper iiigrum), is much 
cultivated in the island, being usually trained over the stems 
of jak and areca trees ; the berries are gathered before they 
are ripe, and dried in the sun on mats. The best black pepper 
is grown on the Malabar coast, which has been noted for this 
product from the earliest times. P. sylvestre is a wild variety 
found in the lower jungles : the well-known cubeb is a species 
only native in Java. ** Bulet walla" {Chavica siriboa), and 
" rata boolat walla " (C betel), are two varieties of the piper 
betel, as it is commonly called,* extensively cultivated in 
Ceylon, India, and other Eastern countries, for the sake of the 
leaves, which are used as a masticatoiy. The plant is trained 
over a trellis like a vine, producing leaves fit for use when a 
year old, and lasts for a long time ; the flowers are yeUow and 
the leaves dark and glossy, having a hot and acrid taste, 

^ F. repens. Moon ; Thwaites ; Royle, Essay on Hinda Med., p. 85. 



slightly narcotic {vide eh. xix.)- The betel is said to be onlj 
native in Pegu, a closely allied plant is found wild in Ceylon, 

ZiNGERBERACE^. — '* lugoroo," or common ginger (Z. offici- 
nale), is cultivated in the lower country for the sake of the 
roots, and several varieties of curcumera are found in native 
gardens. The " kaha ** (C. hnga) has a yellow root called 
turmeric, much used in curries, and the tubers of C angtisti- 
folia furnish a quantity of starch resembling arrowroot eaten 
in India. Some varieties of Elettaria grow wild in the jungles, 
others are cultivated, as the " ensal " (-B. cardamomum), also 
called E. zeylanica, which produces the Ceylon cardamom, an 
article of export much used in medicine. Cardamoms were 
known to Dioscorides, and are of two kinds, the round seeds, 
which are larger than those called true cardamoms, which are 
oval, and supposed to be produced from quite diflferent plants ; 
but Mr. Thwaites says they are only varieties of the same. 
The roots of Kampfera galanga are very aromatic and used 
medicinally by the natives, also worn as necklaces in India. 
Co8tti8 speciosm has also roots that were formerly in great 
repute among druggists, and highly esteemed in the East. 
There are one or two varieties of Amoimim, but the true grains 
of paradise, or Guinea pepper (Amomum melegueta) do not 
come from the East, as often supposed, but from Africa, and 
are used for adulterating beer. 

Marantace-e (Maranta arundinacea) is extensively culti- 
vated ; the root yields the true arrowroot of commerce. 

EuPHORBiACE^. — This is a very extensive order of succu- 
lent stemmed plants, abounding in acrid, purgative and often 
poisonous juice. A great many varieties are found in the 
island, chiefly in the hottest and driest parts, where some 
attain the dimensions of large trees ; many Etiphorbiacece re- 
semble cactus. • 

The milky juice of the "wawa handu" {E, tirticaUi) which 
grows near the sea, is used medicinally by the Malabars. The 
" dalook '* {E. antiquorum) is also a native of the barren sands 
of Arabia ; the branches are angular, and the juice a violent 
purgative, if not poisonous. Jatropha manihot has a large 
tuberous root containing a quantity of starch, which forms the 

BOTANY. 385 

'* cassava bread " of South America ; it also contains hydro- 
cyanic acid, a volatile poisonous essence, extracted by reducing 
the root to a pulp, and spreading it on a hot iron plate. Its 
cultivation is much neglected in Ceylon. 

The " endare " or castor-oil plant {Ricinus communis), also 
called Palma Christi, grows abundantly about Colombo. It is 
a good sized shrub with a green bark, plane-shaped leaves, and 
a hairy capsule. The oil is extracted from the seeds when 
cold, and also by boiling, and forms an article of export. 
There are two or three species, one having broad leaves. 
" Naga welle " {Croton tiglium) is not found in a wild state^ 
being cultivated* in native gardens. A small tree, producing 
seeds the size of a hazel-nut, from which croton oil is extracted, 
the most powerfril of all purgatives, and considered by the 
Sinhalese to be very poisonous ; it is also classed in European 
Pharmacy as a poison ; the seeds are more virulent than the oil. 
There are many varieties of the Croton tribe in Ceylon, one 
of which, C. laccifera, furnishes a gum lac called "kappetya," 
used in painting and medicine by the natives. (Vide ch. xxii.) 

A large tree, called the "nilli gass " (PhyUanihus emblica), 
has a sour fruit resembling a gooseberry, eaten by the natives. 
In India the flowers are considered cooling and aperient, and 
the astringent bark used in tanning. The Aleurites tribola is 
much cultivated for the sake of the oil called ^'kekuna," 
obtained from the nuts. It is hot indigenous, being a native 
of the Moluccas. 

Rhamnacejb. — The shrubs named Zizyphua produce a small 
acid edible berry, one of them being the lote bush, from which 
the ancient Lotophagi are supposed to have derived their name. 
The " erraminya" (Z. anoplia) is very common in the lower 
jimgles, also in India, where a decoction of the bark is used 
for healing wounds. Z. jujiiba is found about Anuradhapura ; 
the bark is said to be used in the Moluccas for diarrhoea, and 
the berries of Z. xylopyrm, a thorny tree, for dyeing leather 
in India. Z. lucida has small reddish hemes, and Rliavmus 
ArnottianuSf found about Newera Ellia, a dark purple berry. 

Terebintaceje. — Some of this family yield a clammy caustic 
juice, which turns black, and inflames the skin, the most 

VOL. II. c 


powerful being that of the Seviecarpus anacardium, or marking 
nut tree of India, used for blisters, remo^dng warts, and 
marking linen and cotton cloths. Many other varieties of 
Semecarpus, called " badula " by the natives, are found in the 
island, chiefly medium sized trees with crimson berries. The 
*' kaakoona" (Canarium zeylanicum) }'ields a quantity of resin- 
ous balsam, which the natives mix with paddy chaff, and bum 
near their domiciles, as they say the smoke drives away snakes.* 

DioscoREACEJa are chiefly twining plants which furnish 
the tropical tubers called yams. Some of the species are 
poisonous. Six varieties are found wild, the tuberous roots 
of all except one (D. hidbifera) being eaten by the natives; 
none of even the cultivated sj^ecies are at all palatable to most 
tastes. The tubers of D. ahta, the West Indian yam, attain a 
great size, weighing many pounds. The '* katto wella," or 
wild yam (D. pentaphylla) is verj' abimdant, and also grows in 
Southern India. The tubers of I). buUnfera are broken in 
pieces and thrown into water to attract fish. 

Arace-e. — Some of this order are poisonous and others 
edible, chiefly tuberous rooted plants of which the common 
anun of Europe is an example. The " kettulla " (Lagenandra 
toxicaria) is considered exceedingly poisonous in India. L. 
lancifoUa, found on the banks of streams in the southern pro- 
vince, is called " atta oodiyang " by the natives, who use the 
roots medicinally ; the}' also Employ the bulbs of the *' panoo 
alia " (Aimm trilobaticm) to kill maggots in the sores of cattle. 

Dr. Hooker mentions "that the inhabitants of the Hima- 
layan valleys eat the starch of ainmi roots after they have been 
pounded and fermented, which destroys the poisonous and 
acrid principle " found more or less in all the Araceae, causing a 
bm*ning sensation in the mouth. He foimd them growing 
11,000 feet above the sea ; none grow in Ceylon at a higher 
elevation than 6000 feet. 

The " kidaran " (AinorphophaUus campanulatus) when culti- 
vated produces edible roots eaten by the natives ; in its wild 
state they are used medicinally. It is also cultivated in India, 
where the roots are considered verv nutritious, and sold for a 

* Thwaites. 

BOTAXY. 387 

rupee per maund.^ Several varieties of Colocasia, both wild 
and cultivated, are eaten by the natives, as the " kandalla " 
{Arum colocasia), very abundant on the banks of streams and 
other damp places. It also forms an article of diet in Eg3'pt, 
Poh-nesia, India, and Zanzibar. 

Among the allied family of Orontiaccce are several climbing 
genera with aerial roots, found on trees in the central 
province, such as the " j)ota wel " {Pothos scandem), producing 
seeds or beiiies which are eaten by the natives after being well 
boiled, and are emploj'ed in India as a remedy in putrid fevers. 
Another sub-genus, the " wada kaha " or sweet flag {Acorus 
calamus) produces the Calamus aromaticus of the drug-shops; 
the whole plant is aromatic, but the roots are the best. The 
Sinhalese, who use the leaves and roots medicinally, culti- 
vate the plant in their gardens. 

LiLiACEiE form an order of bulbous-rooted plants, such as the 
tulip and agave. Three species of wild asparagus, ** hata- 
wareya " of the Sinhalese, are used by them medicinally. The 
** neyanda " {Sanseviera zeylanica) resembles the agave, having 
smooth oblong leaves, which jdeld a very silky and strong 
fibre of excellent quality ; also abundant on the Coromandel 
coast, where it is much used. Three species of Smilax, varieties 
of the true sarsaparilla of South America, are found in the 
central pro\ince. 

Graminace.^. — Nearly 200 species of grasses are found in 
the island, including divers edible grains, and several species 
of bamboos. 

The ** oona gass " or common branching bamboo (Bamhvsa 
Thouarsli) grows chiefly in the lower central and southern 
pro\'inces, and is much used by the natives for temporary build- 
ings and other purposes, but they do not turn it to so many 
ingenious devices as the Chinese. Bamboos, from their pecu- 
liar tubular structm-e, are amazingly strong ; two pieces ten feet 
long and three inches in diameter will bear a weight of 1500 
poimds. ** Kattoo oona " or thorny bamboo {B. spinosa) is 
common on the banks of rivei*s and streams, growing in dense 
clusters or tufts from twenty to thirty feet high, and has rather 

^ Jafirey and Mason, Useful Plants. 

c c 2 


long narrow leaves, covered with rough asperities ; the seeds 
are eaten hy the natives and used as a substitute for rice in 
India, where a silicious substance called tabasheer is found in 
the joints. 

A common kind of reedy grass called '* illook '* {Imperata 
arundinacea) is used for thatching. The Saccharum spontaneum 
is the thatch-grass of India ; both are allied to the sugar-cane. 

The "goyang" or common rice (Oryza sativa) grows wild in 
wet places ; many varieties are cultivated in the island, also 
"mainairee," or common millet {Panicuin mUiaceum). The 
" ammo," a kind of millet (Paspalum scorbicidatum), is very 
abundant, and there are many varieties of panicum grasses, 
some of which are cultivated as fodder for horses and cattle. 
P. myurm is almost similar to the exoticguinea grass. " Koo- 
rakan " {Ekmine indica) is extensively cultivated as an article 
of diet, producing a grain like clover seed, and an intoxicating 
drink called boja is made from it in India by moistening the 
seed and allowing it to ferment for two days, and then pouring 
boiling water on it. 

Several varieties of Poa, the hay-grass of England, are found 
in most parts of the island, and many species of Andropogon, 
chiefly in the upper provinces, growing on the open patenas. 
Some of them contain a quantity of volatile oil having a strong 
odour of lemon, as the "maana" (Andropogon Martini) 
known in India as the russa grass of Nemur, and yields the 
citronella oil of commerce, which Dr. Royle identifies with the 
spikenard of the Bible and Theophrastus. Lemon oil is ob- 
tained from A. 8choenanthu8, cultivated in the neighbourhood 
of Galle, but is not indigenous ; 991,292 oimces, valued at 
£9080, were exported from Ceylon in 1866-7. The fragrant 
roots called petiver or vitiver, sold in perfumers' shops, are 
those of A . muricata, found in the lower country, and the leaves 
of lemon grasses are used in Ceylon and India as a medicinal 
tea, being very bitter and aromatic. 

Malvace^. — The most common of this order are iheHibiscea, 
presenting many varieties distinguished by showy flowers, 
chiefly shrubs, although some are large trees, often found on 
the borders of tanks and marshy places. Many of them 

BOTANY. 389 

have a very tough bark, and abound in mucilage. The bark of 
H, furcatiiSf a small shnib, yields a white flaxen-like fibre. 
The " abelmoschatus " (H. moschatus) is not uncommon in the 
south, and a variety is found at Newera EUia. The name is 
derived from the Arabs, who call it "hab-ul mooskh" on 
account of its musk-scented flowei*s, and are said to add the 
seeds to their coflFee. The fibres of the " belli patta " {Paritium 
iiliaceum) are used by the natives for making rough ropes, and 
the mucilage for food in India in times of scarcity. A variety 
of the cotton plant of commerce (gosaypum) is found in gardens 
about Colombo, and is also cultivated both for home use and 

The Hibiscus rosa chinensis is a very pretty shrub, common 
in the gardens about Colombo, and was introduced from China ; 
it has large crimson flowers shaped like a convolvulus, and called 
the shoe flower by the Europeans, from their producing a 
polish on shoes like blacking. The juice of the flower is full 
of mucilage, and turns a deep purple or black colour, used by 
the Chinese for dyeing their eyebrows, but is not a permanent 
dye. The plant is common in India, where the leaves are 
used as an aperient.^ The Pavona odorata, found in open 
places, is remarkable for the delightful fragrance of its white 
or pale red flowers — one of the five perfimies in which the 
Hindu Cupid dips his arrows. 

DiLLENiACKE. — ^Most of this Order are tropical, large and 
handsome trees remaiiable for the magnificence of their flowers, 
eight or nine inches in diameter. Some are found near banks 
of rivers^ and in damp forests. They have usually yellow 
flowers, but some are white, as D. retiLsa, and their foliage is 
covered with hard asperities. The leaves of D. sarmentosa, 
" korasawel " of the Sinhalese, are used by them in place of 
sand paper for polishing wood. The " hondapara " (D. speciosa) 
is a beautiful tree with white and yellow flowers, having an 
agreeable acid taste, much used by the Hindus in curries and 
chutnies ; they also make a sort of jelly of the fruit, which 
contains a quantity of mucilage, but is said to cause diarrhoea. 

Anonace.1: are a tropical order of plants distinguished by a 

1 Ainslie, Mat Med. 198. 


powerful aromatic taste and perfume. The leaves of A rtabotrpi 
aromaticus, found in the north, are regarded in Java as in- 
valuable for colic, also the roots of the Polyalthia^ but the 
latter is considered a dangerous remedy. A variety of this 
species (P. Mooni) with red flowers, is found at Caltura. 
Uvaria macrophyUa, Thw., produces fruit in grape-like clusters, 
black outside and red inside, eaten by the natives. The " kap- 
pooroo " {Gonitluilmus Walkerii) has red flowers and firagrant 
roots containing camphor, which are chewed by the natives, 
also the bark and ochi'e-coloured flowers of the "nattoo" 
{Xylopia parviflora) along with their betel.^ 

Magnoliace^. — The " sapu," or champac {Michelm chain- 
paca)y is the only variety found in the lower country. Mr. 
Thwaites says, " although common in cultivated grounds, he 
has not yet found it truly wild in the jungles." They are 
usually planted near Viharas, and are very handsome trees, 
remarkable for the perfume of their saffron-coloured flowers, 
highly esteemed by the Buddhists, and constantly strewn in 
their temples, yellow being their sacred colour. The fruit, 
which grows in clusters like grapes, is also yellow and eaten 
by the natives. The champac is not uncommon in India, and 
dedicated to Krishna, and is one of the five flowers in whose 
perfume the Hindu Cupid dips his arrows. Sir W. Jones says, 
" bees finding the flowers too aromatic do not seek their honey.* 
In India an aromatic oil is made from them, and the powder of 
the bark is medicinal. The flowers of the Nilgherry champac 
are nearly white. 

Myristicaceje. — The spicy nutmeg is not indigenous in Cey- 
lon, but there are several wild varieties, usually lofty trees, found 
in damp localities or on the banks of rivers, in tlie central pro- 
vince. Their barks contain an astringent juice which stains red, 
and the fragrant male flowers are used by the natives for 
perfuming their clothes. 

Menispermads are an order of curious tropical climbing 
plants, some possessing active narcotic and poisonous proper- 
ties, while others are medicinal. An infusion of the wood of the 
" weni wel " {Coccincum fenestratum) is used by the natives as 


BOTAXT. 391 

a bitter tonic ; also an infusion of the young shoots of the 
" rassa kinda " ( Tinospora cordifolia) for fevers. It is known 
in India as the gulancha of Bengal, a celebrated febrifuge, 
much employed in the peninsula, as well as the wood and bark 
of Menispermum glabrum. The " rassa kinda " is very common 
in lower jungles, climbing over the trees, and possesses an 
extraordinary vitality. If a portion of stem several yards in 
length be cut off and coiled round the branch of a tree it will 
send down shoots, like a banyan, till they reach the ground, 
where they take root. 

The most i)oisonous of the Menispermads is the " titti wel," 
or Cocculus Indicus {Anamirta cocculics), a strong scandent 
with a corky bark deeply cracked, and round shining leaves ; it 
produces seeds like a large allspice, having a white kernel with 
a bitter taste, but devoid of smell, and contains a peculiar 
acid called picrotoxic. The Sinhalese steep rice in a decoction 
of the seeds with which they stupefy fish and birds, but they are 
dangerous to eat when caught in this manner, as the drug is 
very powerful. It makes a very effective wash and ointment 
for killing insects in sheep, much used in Australia. Cocculus 
is also a native of Malabai* and the eastern islands, and an im- 
portant article of commerce, 240 tons being annually imported 
into England, used, it is said, for adulterating beer. 

The " Colombo root " of commerce, called " kalamba " by the 
natives, and " Raz de Columba " by the Portuguese, is not a pro- 
duce of Ceylon, as its name implies, but comes principally from 
the eastern coast of Africa, being the roots of the Cocculus pal- 
matus ; some is said to come from Malabar in small pieces of a 
grey colour, having a wrinkled appeai'ance and exceedingly bitter. 
Thunberg was the first to point out its real source (iv. 185). 

Sterculiace.e. — Some remarkable members of this tropical 
order are found in the lower country. The "telimboo" 
{Sterculia foetida) has received from the Europeans the well 
deserved name of " stink tree," in consequence of the odour of 
putrid carcasses that proceeds from its dull crimson flowers. 
The fruit is very curious, being a leather-like case the shape 
of a ham, of a fine crimson colour, containing a number of 
black seeds arranged in a circular manner inside; they are 



roasted and eaten by the natives both in Ceylon and India. 
S. guttata is also a native of Malabar, where the white fibres of 
the bark are made into a kind of clath. 

The '* katto imbool " (Salmalia malabarica) is a very gor- 
geous and tall tree, often a hundred feet high, having horizon- 
tal branches, and a light green bark armed with thorns. They 
are covered with scarlet tulip-shaped blossoms, producing long 
pods filled with black shining seeds embedded in a silky cotton, 
much prized for stuffing pillows and cushions, but said to be 
imwholesome, and it cannot be spun fi:om want of adhesion. 
The "imbool" {Eriodendron orientale) is a variety closely re- 
sembling the Salmalia, but has no thorns ; it id also a native of 
the peninsula, and has yellow flowers. They are sometimes 
called cotton trees and bombax. 

The "kattoo bodde" {CuLlenia exceha) of Wight's Icones 
(Durio zeylanica, Gard.)^ is a variety of the famous Durio 
zehethinus of the Archipelago, an exceedingly tall tree, growing 
120 feet high, with a straight stem, having only a few branches 
near the top. The fruit, which grows on the trunk, has been 
compared to a rolled-up hedgehog, about the size of a melon, 
of a yellow colour, and covered with spines. The Ceylon 
durian differs in several particulars from that of the Archi- 
pelago, the £ruit being uneatable, and has not the same horrible 
odour, which, according to Bumphius and Valentyn, is so in- 
tolerable people were forbidden by the Dutch to bring it 
into a town, yet it is mueh relished even by Europeans, 
who become accustomed to it. Crawfurd calls it "a fas- 
cinating fruit, the natives proceeding long distances through 
the jungles in order to eat it." 

LoGANicEiE are remarkable for their venom, as the dogbane 
of Europe ; some are trees and others large scandents. The 
celebrated Strychnos nux vomica^ "goda kadoo " of the Sin- 
halese, is a tree of moderate size, producing a deep yellow 
fruit resembling an orange, with a brittle skin full of pulp, and 
a number of seeds which contain the poison called strychnine 
or nux vomica. The seeds are roimd and flat, with a hard 
homy skin of a transparent grey colour, woolly internally, 

* Calcutta Jour., viiL 3 ; vide ch. xii. 

BOTAA^Y. 893 

and having a very bitter taste but no smell, and yield a resin 
soluble in alcohol ; all parts of the tree are intensely bitter 
except the flowers, and the wood and bark are called by drug- 
gists false angustura bark ; the seeds are considered in India 
an antidote to snake bites. Nux vomica acts on the spinal 
marrow, and is one of the most powerful of poisons, both on 
man and animals.' 

It is remai'kable that the ** ingini " {Strychnos potatorum), a 
variety closely allied to the nux vomica, should not only be 
quite harmless but useful, the seeds being sold in Indian 
bazaars for clearing water by rubbing them round the inside 
of the vessels, when the impurities in the water fall to the 
bottom, and travellers in the jungles, where the water is bad, 
take them with them for this purpose. The S. potatorum is a 
densely-leaved tree, and the fruit round, shining and black, 
containing only one seed. Dr. Hooker attributes its action in 
dealing water to astringency. 

Two climbing vaiieties of the Strychnos contain strychnine, 
S. columhrina and S. minor ; the former, also a native of the 
Philippines and Cochin China, is known as '' St. Ignatius'sbean,'' 
and has an orange -like fruit; decoctions of the roots and other 
parts are used by the natives in fevers and snake bites, but are 
of little value, and an overdose will kill a patient. The wood 
is one of the numerous sorts called Pao de cobra by the 

Fabace^ are found all over the island, including the thorny 
acacias of the north and the magnificent asokas of the south, 
their distinguishing features being papilionaceous flowers not 
found in any other order, and a legimiinous fruit or lengthened 
pod containing seeds. 

Crotalaria. — Of this sub-genus there are many varieties, 
several producing fibres, the most valuable being the "hanna" 
(C.juncia), made into ropes and fishing lines. This is the 
sun hemp of India, largely cultivated in the Madras Presi- 
dency for making gunny bags ; the fibres when properly pre- 
pared, being considered equal to the best Bussian hemp.- 

Indigqferce. — The true indigo plant (S. tinctoria), is a native 

> Orfila, u. 830. 2 g^y^ ji^y^ Vhnts. 


of Ceylon, as well as many allied plants found chiefly in the 
north. The " alloo nilla " (Tephrosia tinctoria) is called Ceylon 
indigo or anil, and yields a fine blue colour with the same pro- 
perties as indigo, and was exported in the time of the Dutch. 

The **heenoodoo peyelli" {Desmodium trijlorum), is much 
valued by the natives as a cure for dysentery ; Z>. triqivelum, an 
Indian variety, is used in the peninsula for the same purpose. 

The **nil kattarodoo" [Clitoria tcmata), or the crow's bill, is 
a veiy beautiful twining plant with blue flowers found at 
Batticaloa. The white root is used by the natives as an emetic, 
and is also deemed medicinal in Tenasserim. Soja Wightii 
belongs to a genus of plants, natives of Japan, the Moluccas, 
and India ; the seeds resemble haricot beans, and the Japanese 
sauce called soy is said to be made from them. Glycine 
labialis is a beautiful scandent named from the sweetness of 
its roots, and is allied to the Uquorice plant. Mucuna purita, 
a variety of the stinging cow itch of Europe, has hairy pods, 
which are scraped and mixed with honey for expelling ascarides. 
In India the pods are called kirwach, and eaten when young 
by the natives. M. gigantca, found at Batticaloa, is remark- 
able for the immense size of its pods. 

Arachis hypogcea, called the earth-nut, is a trailing plant in- 
troduced from Africa. The seeds yield a mild oil resembling 
oUve, imported into England in large quantities from Africa, 
Ceylon, and America ; the nuts are also eaten roasted. The 
'* rata tora *' ( Cajanus itidicus) is the ** dhol bean " of India, 
with yellow flowers, and probably not indigenous.^ The 
" olinda wel " {Abnts precatoritis), a pretty climbing plant with 
3^ellow flowers, produces very hard bright scarlet seeds with a 
black spot at one end, and which are said to be poisonous. The 
roots contain, a kind of sugar used as a substitute for liquorice, 
having a similar taste. It abounds in the cinnamon gardens. 
A. pulchellus is a variety with black seeds. 

The " gam malloo'* {Pterocarpus marstipium) yields a ruby- 
coloured gum which exudes from the bark, called kino, the 
"gummum rubrum astringens*' of the old druggists, used in 
diarrhoea. There are several species of kino, but the only true 

1 Thwaites. 

BOTANY. 395 

kind is obtained from this tree, also a native of Malabar, 
and a large size with numerous spreading branches, pale yellow 
flowers and a single seeded pod. The wood is hard and valu- 
able. P. santalinus is also a large tree with a fine grained, 
hard and heavy, bright red wood, known in commerce as 
Sanders' wood, much used in dyeing, and largely exported 
from the island. The " gass kaala" {Biitea frondosa) is a 
magnificent tree covered with a mass of orange-coloured 
blossoms, whose brilliancy is heightened by a jet-black caljTC. 
It is also a native of the hills of India and Burmah, where 
it is named ** dak.*' Dr. Hooker, in the Himalaya, found the 
branches covered with lac insects (i. 8). A red juice full of 
tannin, which flows from the bark, hardens into a brittle ruby- 
colom'ed gum, a species of kino.^ 

The " en-abadoo " (Erythrina indica) is called the coral tree 
by the Europeans, from its beautiful clusters of scarlet flowers 
resembling coral, found all over India and the Archipelago. 
The natives use it medicinally both for men and cattle, and eat 
the young leaves in cmTies." The pretty models of canoes, 
well-known in the island, are made from the white soft wood, 
and it is also employed by the " mootchee " men of India for 
making toys. 

The most charming tree in the island is the ** deyarat mal " 
or asoka {Jonesia Asoka of Roxburgh), who named it in honour 
of Sir W. Jones ; it is found in the interior near the sides of 
streams and damp places under the shade of larger trees. The 
flowers ai'e a mixture of orange and crimson, producing long 
oval pods. The asoka is a great favourite with the Hindu 
poets, and Buddha is fabled to have been bom under one ; Dr. 
Roxburgh says, *' the whole vegetable kingdom has not a more 
beautiful object." 

Casalpinia. — This genus has usually yellow flowers, thorny 
barks, and wood possessing astringent and dyeing properties. 
Bakam is the Hindu and sappan the Malay name for the 
timber of the Casalpinia Sajyjxin, a species of Brazil wood used 
for dyeing. There was formerly a large export of it from 
Ceylon and Malabai*, the Dutch having nearly extirpated the 

* Ainslie, p. 108. ' Thwaites. 


trees to supply the demand. Sappan has lost much of its value 
since the discovery of South America, and the introduction of 
Brazil wood, which is of superior quality, now in its turn yield- 
ing to coal-tar dyes. The derivation of the word Brazil, first 
applied by Marco Polo, is not known, but the name was given 
to that part of South America, in consequence of the tree being 
found there by the early discoverers. Pigolotti called it 
colombino. {Vide ch. x. xii.) Extract of sappan contains 
gallic and tannic acid. The tree is lofty and slender, with a 
redldish thorny bark and fern-like leaves. 

C. coriaria, a fine West Indian shrub which produces divi divi, 
used in tanning, has been successfully introduced into India, 
and might also grow in Ceylon. The *' koombooroo" {Guil- 
andina bonduc) is much used medicinally by the natives. It is 
also found in the West Indies, India, and Amboyna. The 
kernels are a very powerful tonic and febrifuge, known in 
India as bonduc-nuts, which turn blood-red with nitric acid. 

Cassia. — There are many varieties of this genus, some fur- 
nishing the purgative leaves named senna by the druggists. 
Alexandrian senna is the leaflets of C. acutifolia. The flowers 
of all the Cassias are bright yellow. The " ahalla " {C. fistula) 
is ver}' abundant, and every part of the plant used medicinally 
by the natives, while the centre of the tree furnishes good 
timber. They also use a decoction of the leaves of the " rana 
wara" (C auriculata), found near the sea; the bark is em- 
ployed in India for tanning. The " boo tora" (C. absus) with 
a hairy pod and black seeds, abundant in taU grass, is also a 
native of Northern India. The Hindus eat the leaves of the 
" ooroo tora" (C sopliora) in curries, and the Sinhalese those 
of two varieties they call ** penni tora " (C occidentalis and 
C. Tora), veiy common on the sides of roads. 

Dialiuvi ovoidcwn, Thw., is a vaiiety of the tamarind plum 
of India (D. indicum, Linn.) a large tree with white flowers, 
producing a brownish pod, having an agreeable acid taste. 

Batihinia. — Some of this genus are small trees or shrubs, 
others climbing-plants found in the tropics, stretching like 
huge cables from tree to tree, which they bind together iu an 
inextricable maze. They are distinguished by two lobed leaves 

BOTANY. 397 

and small white or yellow flowers, with a perfume of mig- 
nonette ; the imder bai^c is a natural rope of great strength, 
only requiring the outer cuticle to be scraped oflF.^ 

The ''myla gass" (Piliostigma racemosa^ Thw.) abounds in 
warm jungles ; the bark is made into ropes and the leaves are 
a favourite food of elephants. The '' Maha-poos-wel," called 
jungle-rope by the Europeans (Entada scandem), belongs to 
the sub-genus Mimosea^^ the most gigantic of climbing plants, 
producing pods three or four feet long, and six inches broad, 
containing beans two inches in diameter. They are viry 
abundant about Pusilawa and damp jungles of the central pro- 
Yince. Ropes are made from the bark, and the juice of the 
leaves is employed by the natives for stupefying fish. The 
seeds are used in India for making hair-wash,- and as a 
febrifuge. The " madateya" {Adenanthera pavonia)^ very com- 
mon near gardens, is caUed the red sandal-wood in India 
and grows to a great size, producing bright scarlet seeds with 
a circular streak in the centre, made into beads and ornaments. 
They are considered poisonous. 

Lythraceje. — The "mooroota" {Lagerstrctmia regina) is 
the most remarkable of this famUy in Ceylon, a very beautiful 
flowering tree with long pendent bunches of rose-coloured 
blossoms producing winged seeds, which are deemed narcotic, 
and the bark and leaves purgative. Lagerstrosmia grow in 
moist localities. Lawsonia alha, or the mock-privet, found at 
Manaar and Batticaloa by Dr. Gardner, is the henna of 
Egypt, the kupros of Dioscorides, and the Talmud (Cant. i. 
12), used from the most remote antiquity in the East by 
women for stainmg their nails. Eg}i>tiaii mummies are said 
to have been found so dyed. The leaves are pounded with 
catechu into a paste, producing a deep orange-colour. It is a 
shrub with exceedingly fragrant greenish-white flowers; a 
variety found in India mamed mahindee has thorns. Grislea 
tomentosa, common in the Uva district, has scarlet flowers, 
sold in Indian bazaars under the name of doctoe, and are mixed 
with morinda dye. 

* Royle, p. 296. 

' Also called E, purcestha and Mimosa Kandens, 


CoMBRETACE^ foim a purely tropical order, having verj' astrin- 
gent fruit. The "pooloo gass'* (Termvialia Bellerica) is ahrge 
deciduous tree found in open gi'assy places, producing the nuts 
called myrobalums, the size and shape of a nutmeg, covered with 
a gre}' silky down, and verj^ astringent, much used in dyeing, 
tanning, and medicine, and are occasionally eaten, causing a 
sUght intoxication. The flowers have an impleasant smell, 
and a gum exudes &om the bark, soluble in water, and bums 
in the flame of a candle. A vai'iety named ** araloo" (T. Che- 
bvJh), found in the same locaUties, produces the black myro- 
balums of commerce, smaller and more astringent than the 
others. Galls are found on them in India, which are much 
valued. T. Catappa,^ called the country almond by Europeans, 
is a large and very beautiful tree foimd in gardens ; the nut, 
which resembles the Persian almond, has a rolled up kernel, 
very sweet and white, and 3'ields a fixed oil. Most of the 
Tenninalia attain great dimensions, the largest in Ceylon is 
the **kombook" (T. ^Zaim), very numerous on the banks of 
rivers in the eastern province. They yield a juice which forms 
a varnish, and the timber resembles zebra wood. 

Myrtace^. — Many of this order, natives of warm and tro- 
pical climates, attain a gieat size, exemplified in the blue 
gum trees of Australia (JB«crtZ^^f<(s). Some large ai'boraceous 
M}Ttace8e are found in the mountains. The m3'rtle, pome- 
granate, guava, clove, rose apple, and allspice {E, acris), a 
native of India, are of tliis order ; all except the pomegranate 
possess a fragrant volatile oil, imparting to their fruit an 
agi'eeable odoiu:. 

Eugenia present many varieties in the island, usually witli 
white flowers, producing a very small blackish berry resem- 
bhng a sloe, none of which are eatable, being impregnated with 
a strong and bitter oil. 

Syzygum. — Several of this tribe resemble the clove-tree, 
ha\ing aromatic and carminative berries. The **madang" 
{S. caryophyUifolium) has a round black beny the size of a 
pea, eaten by the natives ; also those of the ** dan gass" (S. 
caryophyllceum). The ** aloo bo " (S. sylvestris), found in the 
upper country, is a large tree with a pintle fruit, called the 

BOTANY. 399 

"jar plum" by the Europeans (Calyptrates Jamho of 

Ct'CURBiTACEiE. — This ordcr comprises the many species of 
cucumbers, gourds, pumpkins, and melons growing in warm 
and tropical climates. 

The "wal rassa kinda" {Zanonia indica), much valued by 
the natives as a febrifuge, is the climbing cucumber of India, 
slightly triangular in form, and the "yak komadoo" {Citrullus 
colocyntim), the colocjrnth of the drug shops. Momordica 
charanta is named the bitter gourd, "karawilla" of the natives, 
ver}' common in their gardens, and used as vegetables along 
with some other species. In India they ai'e eaten in curries 
and also salted. CucurUta lagcnaria is the bottle-shaj^ed gourd, 
sometimes poisonous ; there ai-e several varieties large and 
small. The "vatta coloo," or bird's nest gourd (Liijfa acu- 
tanrfula), very common in gardens, has ten sharp ridges, and is 
used in curries ; when dried they have an odour of honey, and 
are full of fibres and round black seeds ; a decoction of the fibres 
forms an emetic. The natives also eat the " neyang ratta 
cooloo " (L. peiitandra), and in India the leaves are used as a 
vegetable. L. amara has black seeds and a bitter purgative 
fruit, used medicinally by the Hindus. 

The genus Trichosmithes, Linn., are called snake-gourds 
from their sinuous shape, hanging from the trees over which 
they climb like writliing snakes; they are bitter and medicinal. 
The ** dommallo" (T. cucumenna) is used by the natives as a 
febrifuge, and the ** titta hondala '' {T. palmata) is poisonous. 
T. integrifolia, Thw., is a wild variety, with a large spherical 
reddish fruit, having a black skin. 

The genus Bryonia are all medicinal, the root of B. epuuca 
is very bitter and purgative, su2)posed formerly to be the 
kalamba root ; varieties are found with small red pulped fruit. 
The '* kakini ** (CiLCumis pubescens) is common on road sides, 
also the Coccinea indica in uncultivated places. The scarlet 
pulp is eaten* in India, although it is deemed poisonous by 
some. Pumpkins {Cucurbita pepo) are a common vegetable in 
the lower countr}'. The melon is said to have come from Persia. 

Passion Worts. — These climbing plants are semi-tropical. 


producing a melon-like fruit, as the Jamaica water melon; 
most of them are narcotic. The "hondala" (Modecca pal- 
mata) is considered poisonous, but the natives use it medi- 
cinally. " Pdssiflora minima and P.foetida, with an offensiye 
odour in the flowers, found about cultivated grounds, are not 
considered indigenous." ^ 

Cactaceje. — Rhipsalis Cassytha, Gaertn., found on rocks and 
trees in the central province, is considered by Mr. Thwaites as 
certainly indigenous.^ It is generally supposed that the whole 
of the cactus tribe are only native in tropical South America, 
all of them found growing in other countries having been intro- 
duced ; the Opunta vulgaris, common about Colombo, is the 
same as that growing on Mount Etna, both being exotic, and 
the Cactus cochinela on which the cochineal insect feeds, has 
been also introduced. 

Apiace^. — This order is not numerous in the island, being 
mostly natives of cold and damp mountain regions. The 
*' heen gotoocola " (Hydrocotyle asiatica) an herbaceous plant 
found in moist localities, is very abundant in all parts up to 
the highest elevations, the natives use it as an anthelmin- 
tic, and an infusion of the leaves is given to children in 
India as a febrifuge. 

The "katamburu " {Coriander sativum) is a small, straight 
annual with reddish-white flowers, producing the well-known 
coriander seeds, the chief ingredient in curry powder. The 
plant is common in every part of Southern India, where the 
leaves are also used in curries. 

Loranthus. — ^As in most tropical countries, tliere are many 
varieties and an abundance of these parasitical plants in all 
parts of the island, with bright red or orange blossoms cover- 
ing the trunks of the trees with a mass of verdure. The 
** piliUa " (L. nilgherrensis), an Indian variety, is found in the 
upper province. L. cuneatns is very destructive to fruit-trees, 
especially the orange, the Loranthus being a true parasite. Vis- 
cum orientalis is the Indian mistletoe. 

* Thwaites. 

^ Flores albide calycis segmenta 4-5 apici mbro tincta, petala 5-6 oblonga 
albide, bacca ovalis albida sub translucens, semina oblonga nigra.— Flor. Z^j. 
p. 129. 

BOTANY. 401 

Caprifoliace.e. — A species of Lonicera or honeysuckle 
(Dichilanthe Zeylanica, Thw.), has been found between Galle 
and Batnapui'a. Lonicera Leschenaiilti and the ti'umpet honey- 
suckle are common in the gardens of the Deccan, bemg pro- 
bably introduced. 

BuBiACE.E. — The Uncaria Gamhier, a valuable tree of the 
Ai'chipelago, which furnishes the catechu of the chemists, was 
not supposed to be a native of Ceylon, but it has been lately 
found about Colombo. The Mussenda frondosa, named after 
the Sinhalese "mussenda," is a good-sized shrub, and one 
of the first plants that attracts the eye of a stranger, two or 
three of the leaves at the end of each branch being a i)ure 
wliite, contrasting remarkably with the green of the other 
leaves and the bright orange petals of the small flowers. The 
natives eat the leaves when thev are boiled. 

There are several varieties of Ophicrhiza with white flowers. 
The " lat katteya " (O. niongoos), a small and intensely bitter 
plant, has been named from an idea that the mongoos eat some 
of it as an antidote. {Vide ch. xxiv., xxvi.) 

Heydotis, — These attractive plants with blue or purple 
flowera (white inside), present numerous varieties in all parts 
of the island, from the sea-shore to the highest elevations. 
The leaves of the "gatta cola" (ff. aiiricularia) , also tliose of 
H. nitida, are eaten by the natives with rice when boiled. The 
"kuTi walla" {Morinda umbellata), is used for tying fences, 
and the bai'k and roots of the "ahoogass" (M. bracteata) are 
extensively used in India for dyeing red, mixed witli chebula 
galls. In Ceylon they mix the leaves of the " cora caha ** 
{Memecylon umbellata) and sappan wood with them. 

The celebmted munjeet, or Indian madder {Riibia cordi/oUa), 
a native of Nepal, was supposed not to be indigenous in 
Ceylon, but it is found abundantly near Badulla; no use 
appears to be made of it in the island. Indian madder is 
almost identical with the European plant R. tinctornm, used 
as a dye and in medicine from the earliest times, benig men- 
tioned by Hippocrates ; the dyeing property rests in the roots. 

Two plants of the genus Cinchonacea, producing black berries 
allied to the true coffee, ai-e found in Ceylon (C. Travancorensis 



and C. Wightiana), but Mr. Tliwaites says C, Arabica " cannot 
be considered indigenous, although many plants spring up in 
the jungles, earned by birds and monkeys." Stylocoryne 
eUiptwa, Thw., with a white corolla and red berries, was sup- 
posed to be a species of coffee. 

The Ixora coccinea is one of the most beautiful of the 
flowering shrubs in the island, common in the cinnamon 
gardens and other moist, warm places ; the small scarlet flowers 
grow in bimches. There are several varieties ; Z. calycina has 
a white corolla tinged with red, some have red berries. The 
Pavetta Indica, a very ornamental shrub with white flowers, has 
been called the white ixora, also presenting many varieties, 
most of them being found in India and China. Hyptianthera 
moringa is the horse-radish tree of the Europeans. 

Cannabace^. — The seeds of Cannabis Lidica, or hemp, are 
used in Ceylon for adulterating an*ack and toddy, rendering 
them more, intoxicating. The well-known Indian compounds 
called bhang and ganja are made from the leaves, and are said 
to produce a drowsy, ecstatic feeling and frenzy. The Arabians 
call them *'cementers of friendship and increasers of pleasure."^ 
The most esteemed part of the plant is a gummy secretion 
which exudes from the stalk, having the properties of both 
wine and opium. Dr. Royle supposes it to be the " nepenthes" 
of Homer.^ The intoxicating properties of hemp have been 
known from the earliest times, being mentioned by Herodotus 
(Ub. iv. 74). 

Indian hemp was long supposed to be distinct from the 
European species (C sativa) ; there is, however, no difference, 
except that the deleterious properties of the plant are much 
more active in India and hot climates, where violent headaches 
and vei*tigo are produced from remaining too long in the plan- 
tations. Hemp is not indigenous in Ceylon, but is cultivated 
in the western maritime provinces and largely exported. The 
natives call it "mat kansha," which resembles the Arabian 
name. The following is a recipe for bhang : hemp leaves S 
drachms, black pepper 45 grains, cloves, nutmeg, and mace 11 
grains each, triturated with 8 ounces of water or milk in a 

^ Plants of Cashmirc, p. 334. 

BOTANY. 403 

mortar. A long account of the eflfects it produces is given in 
the J. A. S. Beng., 1839, 735. 

AsTEBACEiE. — The well known flowers of the chrysanthemum 
and dandelion are the usual t3rpe of the order. The '* poo- 
poolo " (Vemonia anthelmijitica), or purple-flowered flea-bane 
of LinnS, is found in native gardens, but not wild. Conyza 
anthelmintica, of India, is also called a flea-bane, the roasted 
leaves, it is said, banishing these insects. Sanchus oleracevs, 
or sow-thistle, is found about Galle, and is a common weed in 
the central province ; it is eaten as a vegetable in the Nil- 
gherries. The '* wal kolondoo ** {Artemisia vulgaris), a native 
of Europe, is found in gardens. A. absinthe is the worm- 
wood of the "Swiss liqueur,'* they are intensely bitter. The 
" at addeya " (Elephantopus scalar), a small annual with pale 
red flowers on long hairy stalks, has leaves the shape of an 
elephant's foot ; it is used medicinally in India. 

Sapotac££ are a tropical order of plants abounding in 
milky juice or oily fluid, which, unlike the milky secretions of 
other orders, are generally harmless, and known in India as 
" butter trees " and " oil trees," the African butter plant of 
Parke is one of them. The oil of the seeds of the " mee " 
(Bassia longifolia) is used by the natives for cutaneous diseases, 
and, when fresh, for cooking, and a medicinal oil much used 
in India is also obtained from the Mimusops Indica. The 
''lawooloo" (Chrysophyllum acuminatum) has a fruit resem- 
bling a crab eaten by the natives. The fruit of Sapota elen- 
goides, also a native of the Nilgherries, is used in curries in 
India. C, acuminatum is called the Indian star apple. There 
are many varieties of Isonandria, but the gutta-percha tree of 
the Archipelago (Z. gutta) has not been discovered in the 
island or India. An oil resembling bassia, called " muria ** 
by the natives, is extracted from the seeds of I. grandis, Thw., 
a large tree of the central province. 

OiiEACEJE. — Olea glandulifera and O. Gardneri have some re- 
semblance to the Spanish olive. The O. fragrans of China is 
used for scenting tea. Some varieties are natives of India. 
Ligustrum robustum is an evergreen shrub closely allied to the 
ash, having coloured berries apd astringent leaves. 

DD 2 


Jasminace.i:. — The **pitcba" {Jasmlnum sainhac) is abun- 
dant about Galle and Batticaloa. There are two varieties oi 
sambac, one is a small shrub called the great Arabian jessa- 
mine, with large double blossoms, like small white roses, pro- 
ducing black berries ; the other is a twining plant with single 
flowers. These are the most fragrant of the jessamines, from 
which oil of jessamine is extracted. J, angusttfolia, a narrow- 
leaved twining plant, with large white flowers tinged with red, 
is also a native of the Coromandel. The " saipaala gass'* 
(Nyctanthes arbor tristis), found about Jaflha in native gardens 
and near temples, but not thoroughly wild, is the Arbor trUtU, 
or " sorrowful tree " of the old botanists, so named because it 
only blooms at night and soon after sheds its petals, which 
cover the ground in the morning ; they have a delicious per- 
fume resembling honey, but as evanescent as the flowers. The 
tube of the corolla is a fine yellow colour edged with white, 
used by the Buddhist priests to dye their robes, and also 
employed by the Mahometans in India, mixed with the flowers 
of the Butea frondosa, for dyeing their turbans. Its native 
country is said to be unknown, being only foimd in gardens in 
India. Linschoten describes the ti'ee at Goa in 1589. 

ApocYNACEiE ai'e chiefly tropical, and closely aUied to Loga- 
nades, many being ver}'^ poisonous. Willughbeia Ceylonicus, a 
variety of W. martabanica of India, produces a large reddish 
fruit, a great favouiite with monkeys. Carissa caranda, found 
at Jai&ia, is a large thorny bush >vith very fragrant flowers, and 
blue-black hemes the size of an oUve, resembUng damsons, 
but tasting like currants, the only fruit of the genus not 
poisonous, and much used in India as a jelly. ^ 

Alyxia Ceyhnica, found about Ambogammoa, is a variety of 
A . stellata of the Archipelago, the bark of which is now used 
in Germany for diarrhoea. The " gong kadooroo," growing 
near the sea, is one of the Cerbera (C Odallam) ; all of the 
Cerbera contain a milky fluid, which is stated to be purgative 
and poisonous. The kernels of the nuts of C. Tanghin, which 
grows in Madagascar, are a violent poison. 

The /' divi kadooroo " {Taberncemontana dichotoma), a 

^ O'Shaugnessy, |). 44i. 

BOTANY. 405 

variety of the cow-tree of South America (so named from its 
containing a quantity of milky fluid), has a large fruit of a 
bright orange colour, with a reddish puq)le pulp full of seeds, 
used as a dye in India, where there are several varieties ; the 
flowera are white, and only fragi'ant at night. Dr. Lindley 
says, " The sages of Ceylon suppose this to be the forbidden 
fruit, having the mark of Eve's teeth on it ; before the events 
of Eden it was delicious, but since then it has become 
poisonous. This story appears to have originated with modem 
European writers, and not with the Sinhalese ; besides, it was 
the Mahometans who placed Eden in Ceylon, and there is no 
mention of this plant in their accounts of the island. 

Wrightca antidysenterica furnishes the conessi bark of India, 
corti de palla of the Portuguese, formerly much esteemed as a 
cure for dysenter}'. IF. angustifolia, found about Dambool, 
resembles JV. tinctoria of India, a small tree, with soft pale 
green leaves, which give out a colour like indigo when bruised, 
the wood used in turning, resembles ivory. The " roo kattana'* 
{Alstonia scholaris) has a light wood used by the natives for 
coffins. In the Concan, where the tree is abundant, it is^ 
bitter, and employed as a febrifuge. The " kirri walla " has- 
also a pale close-grained wood, used for inlapng cabinet work, 
and a strong fibre called "dool" is obtained from the Ano- 
dendron paniciilatum, Thw. 

Several species of oleander are common in gardens about 
Colombo, all parts of these plants are poisonous, the roots of 
the Nerhnn odoriim, or double oleander, being among the most 
violent of poisons. The golden-blossomed AlUimanda cathar- 
tica, now natui'alized in the island, is also poisonous, although 
it has been used medicinally. 

Plumeria acutifolia, a good sized shrub, found in gardens 
and near temples, is a native of South America, naturalized in 
several parts of .India, a very singular plant, with a crooked 
trunk and straggling, almost leafless branches, swelling out at 
the ends, where there are a number of small orange flowers 
with a sweet fragrance ; every part of it is full of a tenacious 
milky juice. 

AscLEPiADACE.F. are a curious order of plants, some resem- 


bliiig cactus, others have succulent leaves and stalks. The 
natives eat the young leaves of the " kang koombola " {Cynoc- 
tonum paucifloriim) and some other varieties in their curries, 
also those of the "kiri angoona" (Hoya viridiflora), and use 
the roots medicinally of the "eremoosoo" (Hemidesmus Indica), 
or Indian sarsaparilla, very abundant in the island, also in 
Bengal. It is a twining plant with rusty looking bark and small 
flowers, greenish outside and purple within. 

Several other twining plants of this family have emetic and 
medicinal properties resembling ipecacuanha, as the Scamone 
emetica used in India as a substitute for it. 

The **warra** (Asclepia gigantea) furnishes a very strong 
fibre, and contains a sweet milky juice, which hardens into 
a substance like gutta percha, used medicinally in Ceylon and 
India, and has been long known to the Arabians, who call it 
sukkur-al-ashur. A kind of manna is said to be found on the 
plant in India, where the fibres are employed in weaving; 
some handkerchiefs made from them were sent to the Paris 
Exhibition. A decoction of the roots of the "binnooga*' 
(Tyhphora asthmatica) is used by the natives for snake bites, 
and has been very successfully employed in India for dysentery. 
This is a twining plant with long white roots and orange 
flowers, also Marsdenia tenacissima, producing fibres. Dr. 
Roxburgh says, "the strongest of any plant except those of 
the Urticay' and used by the natives of the Bajmahl hills for 
their bow-strings. The stems are not steeped in water, but 
dried in the sun, when there exudes a quantity of milky juice, 
which hai'dens like India-rubber and removes lead marks. 

Gymncma sylveatre and O. lactiferum (Wight's Icones), are 
half shrubby plants ; the latter has leaves on short petioles, 
ovate, and unequal sided. Sir E. Tennent (i. 102) has remarked 
the mistake concerning one of these plants made in * Lindley ' 
(p. 625), and most botanical wcn'ks, which say " G. lactiferum 
is the cow plant, ' kiri aghema * of the Sinhalese, who use 
the milk as food,'' some adding "that it was employed as 
vaccine matter," which is quite erroneous. According to 
Mr. Thwaites the Hoya viridiflora is the kiri angoona of the 
natives, and D'Alwis has noticed that Sir E. Tennent was 

BOTAXY. 407 

himself in error when he said " the Sinhalese did not eat the 
plant, but used it medicinally," the reverse being the case.^ 

BiGNONiACE^ are a tropical order of plants remarkable 
for theu* large and handsome trumpet-shaped flowers; they 
are mostly tall trees, but some are scandents. The "totilla** 
(Calosanthes Indica),^ a tall straight tree, has large fleshy 
dark-red flowers, which produce immense fruit or capsules 
of an oval shape, about eighteen inches long and four or 
five broad. They are astringent as well as the bark, both 
being used in India for tanning and dyeing. The *' deya 
danga" (Spatkodea Rheedii) ^ has large orange flowers, and the 
**loonnoo madala" Stercospermum chelonoides), an erect tree, 
with large fragrant dark crimson flowers, is found near temples, 
but not truly wild. 

Sesamine. — The ** talla** (S. indicum), native about Jafiha, 
is Inuch cultivated in the dry parts of the island for the sake 
of an oil extracted from the seeds called gingelee in India, 
where it is much used for cooking. This is the "sesamum " of 
Marco Polo, a small annual plant not unlike hemp, found all 
over the East. Sesame seeds are said to be exported from the 
eastern coast of Africa to Southern Europe, where the pro- 
duce is sold as olive oil. 

CoxvoLvuLACE^. — Tliesc climbing plants, which abound in 
tropical countries, are found all over the island, from the sea 
shore to the upper country, covering the sands of the coast 
and the trees of the jungles with their charming garlands of 
varied coloured blossoms, yellow, purple, blue, and white. 
Their roots contain an acrid juice, and some are medicinal. 
They have been divided by Choisy into numerous genera. 

The " kirri baddoo " (Batatas. pajiiculata) is verj^ common 
about Colombo, and B, edvlis in gardens; the latter has 
tuberous roots called sweet potatoes, eaten by both Europeans 
and natives, but are not very palatable, tasting like a frost- 
bitten potato, sweetish and soapy. Pharbitis nil Choisy is the 
least common in the island, the seeds are purgative, resembling 
jalap. The "alanga" {Cohnyction speciosum), with white 

' Sanskrit Catalogue, p. 19. ^ Bignonia Indica. 

* Bignonia spathodia] 


flowers, is very abundant. The natives eat in curries the 
pedicels of a small variety with purple flowers. C. speciosum, or 
a variety, is the " moon flower " of the Europeans (Ipamcea bona 
nox), so named from only blooming at night, its fragrant pure 
white petals shining in the moonlight. Roxburgh describes 
two species of Bona nox in India, one he calls the prince of 
convolvulus with large clove-scented white flowers, and Ipomoea 
grandijiora, the " munda valle " of Van Rheede, which has a 
long tubular flower with little perfume, and grows twenty feet 
high.^ Ipomoea reptana is found near tanks, and also culti- 
vated as a vegetable.* 

Ipomoea pes capra, " the goat's foot convolvulus," abounds 
near the sea, covering the sandy shores after the monsoons 
with a carpet of purple flowers. It also grows on the sands of 
the Coromandel coast. The " Vishnu kraanta " (EvoIvtUtis 
alsinoides), likewise numerous on the shores, has a charming 
small blue flower, dedicated to Vishnu. 

The ** trasta walla" (Ipomoea turpenthum) has purgative 
roots, employed medicinally by the natives. Marco Polo calls 
it turbit, a product of Malabar, and the drug was much used in 
the " Middle Ages." 

The ** devi addaya " (Ipomoea pes tigrides), or " tiger's foot " 
convolvidus, Yery abundant about Colombo, has bright yellow 
flowers. /. reniformis has also yellow flowers, the leaves are 
eaten as greens in India. Shuteria bicolor has half yellow 
and half buff flowers. 

Roxburgh describes a scarlet Ipomoea a native of the Coro- 
mandel. The 7. coccinea, growing about Colombo, is said to 
have come from the West Indies. 

BoRAGiXACE^. — The " loloo " (Cordia myxa), produces a 
glutinous fruit with a heavy disagi'eeable odour, similar to the 
Sebesten finiit of old European Phaiinacopoeias. It is dried 
in India and used as a pectoral, possessing astringent pro- 
perties. The tree is principally a native of Southern 
Em-ope, Persia, Arabia, and Egypt, and produces a soft 
wood easily ignited by friction. Egj'ptian mummy cases are 
said to i)e made from it. 

* Flora Tnd., i. 495. = Tliwaitcs. 

BOTANY. 40* 

SoLANACEJE. — Many of this family lire narcotic and poi- 
sonous, such as nightshade, thorn-apple, and tobacco, but 
some are edible, as the potato. The "kaloo kangwireya" 
(Solanum nigrum), or night-shade, is common in all parts of 
the island, it has white flowers and black berries. The 
Sinhalese eat the ripe fruit of the '* malla battoo " {S.ferox), 
also those of a variety named '* ella battoo," and they use all 
parts of another variety, the " katto welbatto," medicinally. 
The unripe fruits of the S. indicum are boiled and eaten.^ 

Solanum esculentum, called the bringall by the Europeans, 
and the egg-plant in England, is cultivated as a vegetable 
much used both in Ceylon and India. The drop-shaped fruit 
has a deep purple shining skin enclosing a pulpy substance 
{vide ch. xix.). 

Lycopersicimi, or love-apples, commonly called the tomato, 
and several varieties of capsicum, or "chilies," large and 
small, are cultivated in gai'dens. 

The "mottoo" {Physalis minima) and P, angulata, called 
the country goosebeiTy in India, and the winter cherry iu 
Europe, are common in cultivated places; the corolla is a 
duly white and the calyx a reddish yellow, enclosing a small 
red fruit. The " amookkara " {Withania somnifera) has 
downy leaves and greenish yellow flowers with a red berry the 
size of a pea. They ai-e all used medicinally by the natives, 
also in India, where the leaves are steeped in oil. P. somni- 
/era, as its name implies, is very narcotic, and is mentioned 
by Dioscorides. Some of the ben-ies have been found in 
Eg^'ptian mummies. Physalis Peruviana, commonly called 
the Cape gooseberry, is quite naturalized at Newera EUia, and 
makes good jam ; the end attached to the leafy case requires 
to be cut off as it contains an acrid juice. Datura fastuosa, 
very common in cultivated places, is a variable species of the 
purple-blossomed D. stramonium, or thorn-apple of India, the 
flowers being sometimes quite white, resembling D, Metel of 
India, which has fragrant white flowers. These plants, very 
narcotic and dangerous, are used in India for all sorts of 
criminal purposes, the seeds being put occasionally into sweet- 

» Thwaites. 


meats. Laval and Linschoten both say the Portuguese women 
at Goa practised " the Indian trick of giving datura to their 
husbands, which sent them to sleep for twenty-four hours, in 
order that they might carry out their amours." The seeds 
smoked in a pipe have long been considered good for asthma.^ 

ScROPHTJLARiACE^ are another poisonous order of plants 
found in all parts of the world. The fox-glove (Digitalis), is 
the most common European variety. There are a great many 
species in Ceylon enumerated by Mr. Thwaites, of which Uttle 
is known beyond their names. The leaves of the '*gona kola '* 
(Pterostigma capitalum, Thw.) are chewed by the natives with 
their betel, and the "loonoo-weela" (Herpeatis Monnieria, Thw.), 
abundant in damp places, is used as a medicine for children. 

Pedicularis, eaten by goats in Em*ope, is found at Newera 

AcANTiiACE^. — This is quite a tropical order of plants, of 
little value, presenting a great number of varieties in all parts 
of the island, a few are used medicinally by the natives. Some 
are scandents, as the Thunbergia coccinea and T.fragrans. The 
latter has white flowers, and there are two varieties of RuMia, 
one of this genus jdelds indigo in India. 

Strohilanthes, called " nillo " by the natives, form part of the 
underwood aroimd Newera Ellia and other high localities, pre- 
senting niunerous varieties, with white, blue, purple, and red 
flowers, some being parti-coloured, red and white. They are 
chiefly septennial, brittle-jointed plants, like canes, from five 
to six feet high, growing in single stalks, forming in some 
places a dense underwood disagreeable to pass through. The 
flowers, which are full of honey and covered with bees, grow in 
clusters round the joints, and the seeds are a favourite food of 
jungle fowl and rats. As soon as they are shed the plants die 
and decay with great rapidity, being soon replaced by the 
young green crop. Elephants make great lanes in passing 
through the withered stalks. 

Lamiaceje form a fragrant and aromatic order, such as mint 
and thyme. The " been talla " {Ocimuin basilicum and O. 
canum, Linn.,) are very abundant about gardens, and closely 

^ Ainslie, Mat Med., p. 444. 

BOTAXY. 411 

resemble each other; one is the common basil of Europe, used 
medicinally in India, where most of the basils are considered 
sacred plants and dedicated to Vishnu. The roots of Ocimxim 
sanctum are made into highly polished beads, worn by his 
followers and by Brahmins ; decoctions of the roots are given 
in fevei*s, and it is also used at funerals and thrown on graves 
and generally found gi'owing near Hindu temples. The Sin- 
halese, who call it "madooroo tallu,*' also use it medicinally. 
The woolly basil (0. villosum) is the " toolsee," on which 
Hindus are sworn. 

Moschosma polystachyum is the common musk plant, and 
Geniosponim clongatum a variety of basil with a powerful odour, 
found among grass in the central province. 

The " eree werey " {Plectranthus Zeylanica) is found in 
native gardens, and Coleus tuberosus and some other varieties 
ai'e cultivated for their roots, which are eaten, or for cattle 
medicines, and the leaves of the "kolang kola" {Pogostemon 
heyneamis) are used medicinally. A plant closely allied to this, 
or one of the plectranthus, is supposed to be the source of 
patchouly, a perfume highly prized in India, which comes from 

FLACOURTiACEiE are chiefly thorny-stemmed trees or shrubs, 
found principally in the East and West Indies. 

Bixa oreUana grows about Kumagalla and some other places, 
but is not considered indigenous; the capsules contain a 
number of seeds vdth a vermiUon rind, and when it is sepa- 
rated by maceration in water forms the anotta of commerce, 
being annually imported into England, principally from the 
West Indies. A species of Bixa with white flowers is indi- 
genous in India, but the anotta is inferior. 

PhoberoB. — There are several varieties of this very thorny 
tribe in Ceylon, producing small black berries, and their 
trunks are covered with clusters of formidable thorns. .They 
were fii'st described by Gsertner, and some difficulty has been 
experienced in identifying them from his descriptions. Pho- 
beros Gartneri, Thw., is his lAmonia pusilla, but it is a large 
tree. The ^'katto kenda" of the natives {P. acumifiata) is a 
medium-sized tree, with large spines. 


Pangiaceje are a small order of poisonous plants found in 
India, closely allied to the papaya of the West Indies, which 
produces edible fruit. 

The "makooloo" {Hydnocarptts inebrians), a large tree, 
grows on the banks of rivers in the lower country. The rusty- 
coloured tomentose fruit is used to intoxicate fish, who greedily 
devour it, and an oil made from the seeds is employed in skin 
diseases, also from those of the " telli gass,*' (Trichadema 
Zeylanica, Thw.) H. inebrians is also employed in Malabar 
to inebriate fish; the fruit, when eaten by man, is said to 
cause giddiness and dangerous symptoms. 

PoRTULACEJE. — The " heen gonda kola," Portidaca oleracca 
and P. quadrifolia, are common brilliant flowered plants with 
succulent leaves, used as spinach by the natives of Ceylon and 
India. P. olcracea is the purslane of the ancient Greeks, used 
as a pot herb and in salads. 

Tiliace^ or lindens generally contain a mucilaginous juice. 
Corchortts olitoritis and C. capstdaris are very common annuals, 
with small yellow flowers, producing flowers called jute in 
India, one of the materials from which gunny bags are made. 
They are said to be an article of food in Palestine and other 
parts of the East. 

The " coaleya " (Greivia orientnlis) is a large shrub produc- 
ing a dark purple berry, used in India for making sherbet ; 
the berry grows near the axilla of the leaf. The under bark of 
all the Grewia is very tough. 

Elixocarpus is exclusively an Indian genus producing edible 
fruit, resembling an olive, eaten] by the natives of Ceylon 
and India. 

E, obovatus and E. montanus, Thw., are medium-sized trees 
foimd at Newera Ellia and the higher central province, the 
berries being a favourite food of the large rock pigeons which 
frequent Newera Ellia. 

DiPTERACE^. — This is a family of noble and gigantic trees, 
whose straight stems run up a great height before the branches 
which form the head are thrown out. They have very large 
oval leathery leaves and beautifrd clusters of pink, yellow, or 
white flowers, forming a curious winged fruit, looking like two 

BOTANY. 413 

long feathers stuck in a ball, and abound in oil or resinous 
juice of various qualities, some hardening into a kind of pitch 
called damma ; used for covering the corks of bottles ; others 
yield the gurjum oil of Indian bazaars. They have been long 
known, chiefly as natives of the Archipelago, Pegu, and parts 
of India, abounding at Chittagong, where. Dr. Hooker states, 
they attain a height of 200 feet (p. 332) ; but the existence of 
so many of them in Ceylon as enumerated by Mr. Thwaites, 
appears to be something new : he describes thirty -three varie- 
ties belonging to the genera of Dipterocarpm, Doona, SJiorea, 
Vatica, Hopea, &c., all yielding oil or resin. Some of the 
Ceylon Dipteracea are described in Dr. Hooker's " Botanical 
Magazine " for 1854. 

The " boo hora *' (Dipterocarpus hispidus), found in the 
Saffregam district, is distinguished by large hispid leaves 
nineteen inches long and nine broad, with petioles two and a 
half long, calyx lobes six or seven inches long; and the 
** dirana gass " (D. glandulosua) is remarkable for the changing 
colour of the under side of the leaves, being pale yellow when 
young, red at maturity, and quite black when old. 

The " doon " {Doona Zeylanica) yields a quantity of colour- 
less resin, which exudes from the trunk and branches, and 
when dissolved in spirits of wine makes a fine varnish. The 
seeds of Doona cordifolia are roasted and eaten by the 

Shorea oblongifoUa has fragrant yellow flowers, and appeal's 
to be closely allied to Vatica Thunbergia of India. S. robusta of 
India jnelds the dhoona resin used in Hindu temples ; Buddha 
is said to have died under one. 

The " hall gass " {Vateria Indica) yields great quantities of 
resin, used by the natives in their religious ceremonies. The 
resin is called copal in India, and anime gum in England. 
This is a gigantic tree, with oblong leaves from six to eighteen 
inches long, and panicles of white flowers, producing seeds 
four inches long. They are not winged. 

GuTTiFERJE. — These plants are chiefly remarkable for pro- 
ducing the yellow gum called gamboge ; five species grow in 
the island ; the " goraka " {Oarcenin gambogia) is a tail tree, 


producing a fruit something like a melon in shape, three 
inches in diameter, with a thin smooth yellowish rind, which 
is dried by the natives and eaten as a condiment with curries. 
The gum which exudes from the tree is semi-transparent and 
very adhesive, but insoluble in water. A variety produces a 
reddish- coloured fruit. 

The " kana goraka *' {Hebradendron comhogioides) is the only 
species in the island from which true gamboge is obtainable, 
and as the tree is not uncommon the pigment may be collected 
in considerable quantities. It is said Ceylon gamboge is 
not known to commerce, although in many respects quite 
equal to the finest Siam, from whence most of this gum is 

Garcenia echinocarpa, Thw., is a species presenting four 
varieties, one with coriaceous leaves yields a thick oil, ex- 
tracted from the seeds, used by the natives for burning in 
lamps, but gives a very indifferent light. It appears to be 
similar to the gamboge butter obtained in the Mysore jungles 
from G. purpurea, which the Hindus sometimes use as a sub- 
stitute for ghee. 

Erythroxylace^. — The " kerilla," Sethia Indica, yields an 
emp}T'eumatic oil or wood-tar, used for preserving the timbers 
of native boats ; an oil is obtained from the fruit in India, 
and the wood is so fragrant that it is used in Mysore as a sub- 
stitute for sandal. 

Xanthoxylace^. — The "kattoo keena" (X. Rhetsa) is a 
large tree, armed with sharp thorns, found about Colombo. 
The capsules have a strong aromatic taste, and the seeds are 
said to be used instead of pepper in India. 

The " kudu merris wel " {Toddaliq aculeata), very abundant 
in the lower jungles, is a formidable thorny plant, called the 
jungle nail by Europeans, being studded with knobs half an 
inch in diameter, from which project curved thorns as sharp as 
a lancet, rendering the jungles where it is abundant impassable. 
The bark is used as a febrifrige in India. 

Laurace^. — There are many varieties of Teiranthera caUed 
'' kos badda,'' in the upper country, also several new species of 
Actinodaphne. The ^' oolooloo ** found in the south-west is a 

BOTANY. 415 

large timber tree, and two or three varieties of Litsaa, a kind 
of cassia, grow in the central jungles. Vide eh. xxxiii. 

Sandal or some other fragi*ant wood, which cannot be iden- 
tified, is several times mentioned in connection with the pro- 
duce of Ceylon by Chinese writers, but is never found growing 
wild in the island now, being imported from Malabar, where it 
is abundant. The Santalem album is a small tree resembling 
myrtle. There are two species, one with white and the other 
with red wood. Sandal oil is made from the seeds, and the 
powdered wood used by native doctors for fevers. 

Nepenthes. — The graceful pitcher plant {N. diatiUatoria) has 
often excited the curiosity of botanists, who have never been 
able to explain its use. Some have supposed the pitcher to 
distU water to supply the plant with moisture. The * pitcher 
with its lid hangs pendent from a long stalk at the end of the 
leaf. They are very numerous in some parts of the island, and 
grow to a large size. 

PisTiACE.E. — The common duck-weed of Europe, Lemna 
viinor, is not uncommon; it also grows in the Sikkim Hima- 
layas. The tropical variety Pistia stratiotes, " deya parandella " 
of the natives, is found in the warmer parts of the island. This 
plant is common in the tanks of Jamaica, where it is said to 
poison the water. 

Ttphace^. — Typha angiistifolia, and T, elephantina, two 
species of bulrushes, are found in the lower part of the island. 

Ferns. — A numerous variety of ferns and club mosses 
abound in the damp jungles of the central province; many 
attaining a great size, as the tree fern (Alsophila gigantea), 
which is foimd at an elevation of 7000 feet in the Himalaya, but 
never so high in Ceylon. 

Lycopodium clovatum, the club moss of British moors, is 
found on the Horton plains. 

Ophioglossum vidgatum, a variety of "adder's tongue," a kind 
of club moss, is common on the trunks of trees in the higher 
regions. It is named from a sort of shoot resembling the 
tongue of a snake, which projects from it. Lygodium scan' 
dens is a climbing fern, common in the lower country, running 
over other plants. 


No use appears to be made of any of them by the Sinhalese, 
but in India and other places some are eaten and others used 
medicinally. In the Nepal the tubers of Aspidittm are eaten. 

Botrychium virginicum, found at NeweraEllia on the ground 
under trees, is boiled and eaten in the Sikkim Himalaya ; and 
iheAdiantumcapiUns veneris or maiden hair, found in the Utr 
district, is said to be used in Europe for making syrup of 


- ♦ - 


These very remarkable isles are a dependency of Ceylon^ 
l)ut the authority over them is merely nominal, as they are 
;govemed by their own Sultan, who, however, acknowledges 
the sovereignty of Ceylon by sending every year a deputation 
with pi'esents to the Governor soon after the setting in of the 
south-west monsoon, and in return is presented with a piece 
of scarlet cloth. 

Sir E. Tennent says '' This custom has continued from time 
immemorial; and dates at least from the period of the Chinese 
supremacy in Ceylon, a.d. 1480, who claimed a sovereignty over 
the Maldives also," which seems very unlikely ; it more pro- 
bably dates from the time of the Portuguese, who erected a 
small fort on Madow, the principal atoll.^ 

There is some trade between Ceylon and the Maldives, and 
their curious vessels are sometimes seen in the harbours* 
The seas round the islands swarm with fish, which is dried 
and sent to India, but their chief products are cocoa-nuts, coir, 
and eowries, mentioned by Arabian writers a thousand years 
ago, who divided them into two groups according to their 
produce, calling them Diva-kouzah (cowiie-isles) and Diva- 
kanbar (coir-isles.)* 

^ De Barros, dec. iiL 1, iL 305. L iii. ch. L 

' II. Reinaud, in his Frag. Arabes, pp. 93, 124, gires a tranalatioii of part of an 
Arabic version of a Sanskrit history of India in the year of the Hegira 417, which 
says — ''Ces tics se divisent en deux classes, tuivant la nature de leur principil 
produit. Los unes sont nonun^es Diva kouzah, e'est-i-dire lies des cauris . • • • 
les autres Diva Kanbar, mot qui d^signe le fil que Ton trease avec les fibres da 
cocotier et avec lequel on coud les navires."— G^graphie d*Aboal!6da» Intro. Frag. 
Arab., pp. 93, 124. 



The cowiies {Cyprea moneta) are caught in a peciiUar 
manner. A number of threads are attached to bundles of 
cocoa-nut leaves like sheaves of wheat, which float on the sea ; 
at the ends of the threads are little bits of meat which the 
shellfish swallow, and thus secured, they are then left in heaps 
to rot, and afterwards washed. Enormous quantities of them 
are obtained in this manner, several hundred tons being^ 
annually shipped to London for export to the coast of Africa* 
Some years since they were worth 201. a ton, but are not so 
valuable since the decline in the African slave trade. Cowries 
have been used as small coin from time immemorial in the 
East. De Barros says they are much nicer than copper 

An account of the coral formations of the Maldives and 
their supposed gi*adual sinking beneath the ocean will be found 
in chapter lY. The number of little islands into which all the 
larger atolls are broken up is very great, being probably more 
than 1000. Atoll Madow, which is fifty-eight miles long and 
twenty-seven broad, contains one hundred, twenty-nine of 
which are inhabited, with from twenty to one hundred i)eople 
in each ; the largest isles are only about one mile each way, 
others only a few yards. The subsoil is a soft sandstone, 
which hardens on exposure to the air, and fr^sh water is 
obtained at a depth of six feet; it is remarkable that the 
quality of the water varies very much in wells within a few feet 
of each other, some being quite brackish and others fresh ; 
the interior of the islands ai*e usually several feet lower than 
on the outer edges. 

The soil is said to be fertile, growing millet {Panicum 
miliaceum), vegetables, and roots, banyan trees, bread-fruit, 
tamarinds, and a few bamboos. 

There are no wild animals except the fl^'ing fox, and only a 
few cattle brought from India. They abound in rats, and 
fowls, which are half wild, were so abundant some years since 
the}' could be bought for one penny each, and three dozen 
eggs for the same sum. There is only one snake to be found, 
which is said to be very venomous, but the name is not 


The atolls are so little raised above the sea and so covered 
ivith cocoa-nut trees, nothing else is to be seen until you are 
quite close to them, and are very unhealthy, particularly to 
strangers, who ai'e subject to a dropsical complaint which swells 
the whole body, and disorders of the bowels. The tempera- 
ture at night is IS"" Fahr. and from 80° to 84*^ in the day. 

The sea breaks on the outside of the atolls in a fearful 
manner, especially in bad weather, and were long the dread of 
mariners, many wrecks taking place, until they were surveyed 
and their position accurately defined by Captains Moresby and 
Horsfield in 1832.^ 

There are said to be two races and languages in the islands, 
the dominant race being of Arab descent and speaking Arabic, 
but all the inhabitants are very strict Mahometans. If there 
is an aboriginal race inhabiting them, their origin does not 
appear to be known. The Rev. Dr. Wilson (J. R. A. S. vi., 
43), supposes them to be descended from some Sinhalese wrecked 
there four or five hundred years since, but all the travellers say 
they have not the least resemblance to the Sinhalese or their 
language either. 

Prinsep, in the " Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal " 
for 1836, gives a description of the Maldivian alphabet, which 
appears to be partly original, being composed of nine indi- 
genous characters, with the addition of the nine Arabic 
nimierals, distinguished by a comma bver them. 

The earliest notice of the islands being inhabited is in the 
time of the Emperor Julian, fifth century, and they appear to 
have been sometimes governed by women, which is mentioned by 
Abu-Zaid in the ninth century. 

A very interesting account of these isles was given by Ibn 
Batuta, who lived there some years in the fourteenth cen- 
tury, and by Pirard De Laval, who was wrecked on them 
in 1601. 

* Jour. Geog. Soc., vols. ii. v. 

E E 2 


Abhayaqiri, Dagoba/49 

Aba Zaid, deaciiption of climbing-fish, 

Acacias, 368 
Acalepha, 274 
Acantliunis, 247 
Acciprites, 142 
Aclierontia, 217 
A(lam*s Peak mentioneil by Fa Ilian, 9 

Moses of Chorene, 9 

• when connected with Bnddha, 9 

called SalamaLi, 10 

legends of, 11 

Pawn Koo, 11 

mentioned in the Samaritan 

Pentateuch, 12 
route to the Peak, 17 

Tlie iron chains ascribed to 

Alexander, 20 

Jacob Bryant's idea, 10 

Fubricius, his "Codex," 12 

led of the Gnostics not Adam, 


Dulaurier's idea, 13 

Sophia or Wisdom, 13 

Noos and Logos, 14 

first of the iEons, 14 

Amitabha Buddha, 11 

MS. of Valentinus, 13 

Queen Candacc's Kunuch, 15 

. ideas of tlie Portuguese, 15 

Cornish legend. Hood's, 16 

Adi Buddlia, 76 

.^le marmelos, 368 

^ian, mention of tortoises, 202 

export of elephants (vol. i., 190) 

sword-fish, 246 

walking-fish, 247 

iEsop's fables, 29 

Agamidffi, 184 

Albinism among the fauna, 101 

Albyrouni on the pearl fishery, 289 

Alexander and Adam's Peak, 10 

AUobii, the, 71 

Almeiila Manoel and burying-fish, 255 

Amitabha Buddha, 11 

Ampullaria, 272 

Anabis, The, 260 

Daldorf 's account, 261 

Annelida, 236 
Anonacesp, 389 
Anseres, 168 
Ant-lion, 220 
Ants, black, 223 

red, 224 

white, 211 

their ubi(^uity, 223 

Antuadhapura, ruins at, 52 
Aphaniptera, 227 
Apocynacete, 404 
Araccie, 386 

Arachnidfle. Sm Spiders. 
Arbor tristes, the, 404 
Archelaua, and Buddha, 72 
aVrchitecture of the towns, 47 

dagobas, 47 

Indian topes, 50 

monasteries, 51 

the brazen palace, 61 

palaces, 53 

the Sat Mahal, 51 

materials used in, 53 

Areca-palm, 312 

Aripo, description of, 292 
Aristotle and burying-fish, 256 

vitality of the turtle, 202 

Amatto, 411 
Arrow-root, 384 
Articulata, 230 
Arts, weaving, 37 

dyeing, 37 

— — music, 38 

painting, 38 

carving, 39 

gilding, 40 

working in gold, 40 



Arts, pottery, 41 

working in iron, 46 

— coins, 41 

•— — distillation, 43 

— carpenters, 43 

mirrors, 44 

glass, 44 

idem conductors, 44 

Asclepiadaccse, 405 

Ashref, the poet, 10 

Asoka trees, 395 

Asteracese, 408 

Atthakatha, the, 28 

Anrantiaceffi, 368 

Avicuk, 285 

Avitchia, the, and peacock, 165 

Badger, the Ceylon, 112 

Baker, Sir S., on Ceylon bears, 109 

■ on elephants, 128 

■ leopards, 114 

description of Ceylon, {Vide 
vol. L p. 88) 
Balsams, 379 
Bamboos, 387 
Bandicoot, the, 117 
Banyan trees, 382 
Baobabs, 367 
Barringtonia, 371 
Basil, holy, 411 
Batrachia, 200 

list of; 206 

Bats, their numbers, 105 

vivid colours, 105 

their wings, 106 

- horse-shoe, 108 
— ^ long-armed, 108 

list of, 136 

Bears, 109 

Bcckman, his commentary on Aristotle, 

Bees, wild, 226 
Beetles, numbers of, 210 

■ cocoa-nut, the, 210 

■ golden, 212 
• ■ water, 212 

list of, 240 

Berycidffi, 243 
Bezoar, 46 

Bhang, 402 

Biche de Mer, 274 

Bignoniaceae, 407 

Birds of Ceylon and India compared, 

-T — eagles, sea and land, 142 

hawks, 144 

kites, 143 

owls and night-jars, 144-147 

the devil bird, 145 

superstitions about it^ 146 

swallows, 148 

kingfishers, 149 

bee-eaters and hoopoes, 150 

sun birds, 150 

warblers and tailor birds, 151 

wagtails and thrushes, 153 

orioles and babblers, 154 

bul-buls, 154 

fly-catchers, 155 

shrikes, 167 

- crows, jays, and starlings, 153 

- weaver birds, 159 

their nest and fire-flies, IZ9 

sparrows, 159 

horn-bills, 160 

parroqnets, 161 

woodpeckers, 162 

- cuckoos, 162 

pigeons, 163 

peacocks, 164 

jungle fowl, 165 

- partridge and quail, 166 
^— sandpipers, 166 

tumstones^ 166 

- plovers, 166 

herons, 166 

storks and ibises, 167 

— — woodcock and snipe, 168 

- screamers, 168 

rail, 168 

flamingoes, 168 

darters and shags, 169 

grebe and teal, 169 

shooting with buffaloes, 169 

tern and gulls, 169 

frigate birds, 169 

list of birds, 171 

Birds' nests, when made, 140 
edible, 149 



Blyth, Mr., of the Calcutta Museum, 


Boa, the Ceylon, 196 
Boar, the wild, 121 
Bolinaa, the philosopher, 20 
Bo-trce, the, 882. {Vide also vol. i. 

Books, Siijhalese, 24 
Boraginacete, 408 
Botany of Ceylon, 346 

■ works on, 346 

Barman's "Thesaurus," 346 

— — botanical garden, the, 347 

Thwaite's catalogue, 347 

■ general aspect of the flora of 

Ceylon, 348 

exotics, 850 

list of v^etable products ex- 
ported, 352 
Bowring, Sir H., fish of Slam, 258 
Brahmiuism, 78 

Brun, Le, account of crocodiles, 178 
ifUm elephants, 122. {Vide also 

voL i. p. 832) 
Bryant, Jacob, on Adam*s Peak, 10 

■ on Indian science, 30 
Buchanan, Ganges fish, 260 

climbing fish, 261 

Buddha, his character, 56 
doctrine, 57 

death, date of, 62-63 

biography of, 59 

his Sutras, 28 

Pitakas, The, 27-28 

Panti^ali Sutra, 71 

The Four Truths, 64 

patra, his, 85 

attractive story of his life, 64 

Saint Josaphat, 64 

Saint Damascenua, 64 

Greek authors on Buddha, 71 

confounded with Manes, Wodin, 

Daniel, &c., 65 

and the Manichees, 72 

Buddhaghosa, his Commentary, 28 
Buddhism, origin of, 66 

and Brahminism, 66 

exx>elled from India, 66 

uncertain doctrines, 69 

praying wheels, 68 

Buddliism, The Grand Lama, 66 
-^— resembles Christianity, 67 

gymnosophists, 71 

Fa Hian's account, 68. (Vids 

also vol. i. p. 231 .) 
eating of animals, 70 

Stonehenge, a Bctodh t4?rapli% 


convocations, 26 

priests, 88 

nuns, 90 

hell and heaven, 75 

The Nirvana, 75 

schisms, 77 

relics, The tooth, 80 

destroyed by the Portuguese, 


The king of Pegu, 83 

Buffaloes, their dangerous temper, 132 

love of mud, 132 

Buffon on the pearl fish, 284 
Bugs, flying, 228 

- aquatic, 227 
Bul-bnls, 155 

Bullocks, used for draft, 134 
Bungarus, The, 195 
Burmaa's ** Thesaurus," 346 
Bumouf on Buddhist documents, 23 

Histoire du Buddhisme 56 

Butterflies, 215 

Cactus, 400 
Calamander, 854 
Calamus palms, 813 

aromaticus, 887 

Calophyllum (wood), 356 

Camels, attempt to naturalize them, 1C3 

Campanula, 875 

Cannabacese, 402 

Cape gooseberry. The, 409 

Caprifoliacese, 401 

Capsicum, 409 

Carabldn, 214 

Carangidse, 246 

CaraweUa, The, 194 

Cardamoms, 884 

Camivora, 108 

list of, 136 

Carpenters of Ceylon, 48 
Carvings, 89 



Cassia, 825 
Cassididae, 214 
Castor-oil tree, 852, 885 
Centipedes, 235 
Ceratophora, lizards, 185 
Cermatia, 235 
Cetacea, 184 
Ceylou moss exported, 852 

■ oak, 858 
ChameleoD, 186 
Champac, The, 390 
Chank shell, 270 
Chay root, 875 
Chcetodon, 224 
Cheiroptera, 105 
Chelonia, 202 

Childer's Pali Dictionar}', 84 
Choultries, 1 

Christianity in Ceylon, 95 
Cicadidse, 226 
Cinnamon of Ceylon not known to the 

ancients, 880 

when first mentioned, 884 

origin of the term, 838 

Sanskrit and Chinese names, 


doubtful if it was indigenous, 


• — varions sources of bark, 886 

not planted by the Dutch, 

as a Government monopoly, 

Ceylon bark superior to all 

other, 340 

revenue derived from it, 841 

-^ quantity exported, 841 

— — price of, 841 

■ the plantations, 341 

sold by government, 842 

abolition of the monopoly, 

mode of preparing the bark, 


the chalias or peelers, 844 

— oil of cinnamon, 844 

folia malabarthrum, 844 

berries dried, 344 

Citronella oil, 888 
C'lcincns Aloxandrinufs 71 

Clemens, account of Bmldba, 71 

the Brahmins, 71 

Sarmanie and allobii, 71 

Cleopatra, her pearls, 278 

Cloves, 851 

Clni>eidffi, 249 

Cobra de capello. The, 189 

Cocculus indicus, 891 

Coco-nut. See Palms. 

Coffee, when first used as a beverage, 30T 

riots at Constantinople, 802 

prohibited in England by Charles^ 

II., 802 
^"the first London coffee-shop, 

attempts of the Dutch to culti- 
vate in Ceylon, 303 

first English planters, 804 

exports of, 804-808 

tax on, 804 

number of acres sold for j>lant- 

ing, 804 

Ceylon coffee mania, 805 

present state of the trade, 808 

the Suez canal, 308 

number of Malabar coolies, 3C1> 

number of acres planted, 81 1 

infusion of the leaves, 311 

borers and beetles, 211 

bug. The, 229 

tree rat, 117 

Coins, 41 

Coir. See Palms. 

Colombo wax, 844 

Convocations, Buddhist, 26 

Convolvulus, 407 

Coral tree. The, 895 

Cotton plant of commerce, 889. ( Vitfe 

also vol. i. p. 92.) 
Cowries, 418 
Crabs, 269 
Crocodiles, 178 
Crows, The, of Colombo, 158 
Crustacea, list of, 270-275 

calling crabs, 269 

hermit, 296 

sand, 270 

pea, 269 

lobsters, 270 

. prawns, 270 



Cucnmaria, 274 
Cucumbers, 899 
Cuckoos, 162 
Cucorbitacesp, 399 
Currency of Ceylon, 42 
Cycadacese, 871 
Cypiinidae, 268 

Daoobas, the Ruanwella, 49 

¥ Bancot, 50 

.J Abhayagiri, 49 

Kalany, things found in it, 


Jatawana, 49 

Dalada, The, 80 

Daldorfs account of climbing perch, 260 

Damascenus, Saint John, 64 

Dambool, The temple, 87 

Damma resin, 413 

Datura, 409 

Deer, not found in dense jungles, 131 

The musk, 131 

barking and spotted, 131 

paddy field, 131 

albinos, 131 

elk, their love for water, 131 

Del (timber), 354 

Demonology and snake worships 91 

kattadias, 93 

^-^ devil priests, 93 

^ devil dancers, 94 

Dendrophidia, 200 
Devil bird, The, 145 

The Buddhist, 75 

Dhammapada, The, 28, 74 
Dilleniacee, 889 
Diptera, 227 
Dipteracese, 412 
Distillation, 43 
Dogs, pariah. 111 

European, 111 

Dolphins, 135 
Doom palms, 316 
Dorothaus, Bishop of Tyre, 95 
Dragon flies, 220 
Duckweed, 415 

Dugong or mermaid, 134 

faUea about it, 134 

Durian, The, 392 
Dyeing, 87 

Kaqlks, 144 
Earth nuts, 394 
Ebony, 355 
Egg plant. The, 409 

elephants, decrease in their 

numbers, 122 

renown of Ceylon, 123 

trade in them, 122 

price of, 122 

ivory, few have tusks, 123 

origin of their name, 124 

height of, 123 

— ' weight of male, 180 

stomach peculiar in its form, 


age of, Sinbad's romance, 124 

agility of, 125 

fond of cool places, 125 

albinos, rare, 123 

rogue, their propensities, 


shooting, manner of, 127 

as executioners, 128 

kraals, 129 

catching, by the Moors, 129^ 

Elk, The, 131 

Elu (language), 85 

Epiphanius and the Manicheea^ 72 

Erythrina Indies, 895 

Eiythroxylaccse, 414 

Euphorbias, 384 

Exotics, 850 

FABACEiE, 393 

Fabricius, hU " Codex," 12 

Fa Hian, account of Buddha, 56, 68. 

( FtV20 also vol. i. 231.) 
Fauna of Ceylon and India compared,, 

98. (YidA also vol. i. ch. iii.) 
Fayrer, Dr., on snakes, 190 
Ferns, 415 
Fish of Ceylon, 242 

Red Sea perch, 243 

mullets, 244 

chietodon, 244 

pterois (red firefishX 245 

seer fish, 245 

bonito and albicore, 245 



Fiflh, dried fish (kummelmus), 245 
*^ sucking fisli, 246 

goat fish, 246 

— — sword fish, 246 

WAlking fish and lophotes, 247 

saUor ish, 246 

Cuviei's santeur, 247 

lea suigeons, 247 

— unicorn fish, 248 

Up fish, 248 

^— parrot fish, 248 

half beaks, 249 

flying fish, 849 

— ^ anchoyies and sardines, 249 
— — Mhi, 250 

pipe fish and sea horses, 250 

coffer fish and trigger fish, 250 

— balloon fish and urchin fish, 251 
dog fish, 251 

sharks and the pilot fish, 252 

saw fish, 252 

rays (gigantic) and sea devils, 252 

poisonous fish, 258 

fresh water fish, 254 

— — travelling and burying, 254 

not known to mediteval writers, 254 

Beckman*s Commentary on Aris- 
totle, 255 
^-^ migrate when tanks dry up, 256 
Mr. Boake^s experiments, 257 

— air breathers, 257 

— the lepidosiren, 259 
— — mud fish, 258 

'■ dug up in various places, 259 
the anabis, 260 

— mentioned by Abu Zaid, 261 

Daldorfs account, 260 

Captain Mitchell, 261 

' ophiocephalise, 261 

gobies, 262 

mastacembelus oraial, 262 

. chromedes, 262 

fish found in hot springs, 264 

— shcat fish, 262 

— ^ arius, a remarkable, 263 

— sucking carp, 263 

barbels and roach, 264 

— ^- dace and perch, 264 

— -^ showers of fish, frogs, and snakes, 

Fish, Quatremere's account, 2^ 

list of fish, 265 

Flacourtiacese, 411 

Flamingoes, 249 

Flying fish, 249 

Frogs, 200 

Fruits, native and exotic, 858 

mangosteen, 858 

papaw. The, 858 

' jambu, or rose apple, 859 

loquat, 859 

lovi lovi, 859 

beliknbi, 860 

-mangos, 860 

mnlbeny, 860 

litchi or nepheliom, 859 

shaddocks, 859 

custard apples, 860 

I pomegranates, 860 

guavas, 860 

Fruits, oranges, 860 

cashew nut, 861 

-^— pine apples, 861 

■ jak. The, described by Pliny, 

—banana or plantain, 362 
I avocada pear, 862 

■ grapes and vitis Indica, 863 
Fungi, 867 

Gallina, 164 

Gamboge (Ceylon), 414 

Gampola rest house and suspenaion 

bridge, 8 
Gautama Buddha, 60 
Geckoes, 182 
Gilding, 40 
Ginger, 884 

Glass manufactures, 44 
^— conductors, 44 
Gloriosa superba, The, 871 
Glow-worms, 213 
Gogerly's, Rev., translationa, 29 
Gold, working in, 89 
Golden beetles, 212 
Grallie, 166 
Grape vine and wild varieties, 863 

did it come from India, 863 

I Grasses, 887 



Greek writers on Buddha, 71 
Grimblot*8 translations, 33 
Gymnosopliists, 71 
Guttifene, 413 

Halmillia (timber), 854 

Hawks, 144 

Hell and heaven, the Buddhist, 75 

Hemp, 402 

Hemiptera, 227 

Henna, 397 

Heydotis, 401 

Hibiscus, 389 

Holothoria or sea slug, 274 

Homalopsidffi, 199 

Homoptera, 226 

Honeysuckle, 401 

Hood*s Cornish legend, 16 

Horn bills, 160 

Horses, all imported, 119 

■ strange manner of feeding, 120 

Horses, from the Persian Gulf, 120 

Pegu ponies, 119 

— — ftom. the Persian Gulf, 119 

AoBtralian, 119 

Hydrophis, 198 
Hydrophykx, The, 372 • 
Hymenoptera, 223 

Ichneumon or mongoos, 112 

Ie(i of the Gnostics, 13 

Iguana lizard, 180 

Indian bael, 368 

— — rubber tree, 381 

Indigo plants, 393 

Infusoria, 275 

Insects, vast numbers of^ 209